Bragi brings the babel fish to life
German hearables start-up Bragi has added a real-time translation feature to its Dash earpieces, which it says will let users seamlessly talk to each other in different languages.
In-ear pieces hit the mainstream last year when Apple launched its wireless Airpods.
However, Bragi has been around since 2013 and hopes to capture the market by offering added features which turn the hearable into a personal assistant, fitness coach and now an on-call translator.
A few start-ups have been experimenting with this technology, trying to make author Douglas Adams' fictional 'babel fish' a reality, but nothing has yet been launched by them.
Bragi, in partnership with iTranslate, will let users hear a foreign language and have it translated in the user's ear in real-time. Users will need to have both the iTranslate and Bragi apps downloaded onto their smartphone for it to work.
The app processes the language and converts it to the user's preferred language, then transmits it to the Dash earpiece via Bluetooth.
The iTranslate smartphone app can interpret 40 languages, including Afrikaans and Zulu.
There will only be limited features available in the free version; iTranslate Pro needs to be downloaded to use it to its full extent.
If the app works like it promises, it would open up communications channels between millions.
Bragi launched its earpieces in SA last year, through Ikhambi distribution.
The company has only recently opened its API to developers to let them integrate the hearable into third-party apps. iTranslate is one of the first partnerships.
(Additional reporting by Masibulele Lunika)