Foreign Language Translation Tech & the Arts

If you’ve ever used Google translate you know how amazing it is to look at text in French, for example, and have it translated reasonably well into English instantly. Now imagine that could happen not with text, but in your ear, enabling you to have a conversation with someone speaking another language, in person. That’s the idea behind an innovative product I recently read about, the Pilot. 

According to an article from How Stuff Works,The Pilot is wearable technology that fits in the ear and translates between users speaking different languages.”

While this may seem magical in itself, imagine the potentially interesting uses for something like this in the arts. Assuming this technology becomes low cost and ubiquitous, the obvious correlation is being able to enable non-English speakers to follow a play or a musical. Translation: audience development for immigrants or foreign tourists who would otherwise not be coming (or enjoying) your performances.

Alternatively, in classical music, most unfamiliar audiences to this art-form think they need to know more about the music to enjoy it, so what if this technology is used to help them with quiet commentary in their ear. Even someone with a background in classical music such as myself, is intrigued by the idea that a quiet voice could provide audio commentary during a symphony. The same holds true for dance. I frequently enjoy dance performances, but I’m pretty sure I’ve missed most of the plot. Purists will shudder at these thoughts, but I’m looking past that, at the obvious and exciting ways to attract new audiences.


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