In another instance of technology mimicking science fiction, Indiegogo-funded device Travis the Translator is due for distribution next month. With some drawing parallels between the device and the Babel Fish from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which, for those unfamiliar with the fictional series, is a small fish that allows the wearer to instantly understand any spoken language), Travis the Translator is a pocket-sized device that can detect and translate speech in 80 different languages in real time.

Travis the Translator was designed and created by a small firm of the same name founded by travel and technology enthusiasts Lennart van der Ziel and Nick NM Yap. The device relies on an adaptive artificial intelligence to analyse and recognise up to 80 of the world’s most commonly spoken languages. Travis is then able to audibly relay a translation in any of these 80 languages to the user – either via headphones or its inbuilt speaker.

Reversing these roles, the user is also able to speak into the device’s inbuilt microphone and have their speech translated into a language of their choosing. This means that Travis enables users to listen and participate in presentations, business meetings or conversations in a foreign language.

As the device simultaneously supports wireless Bluetooth headphones as well as a wired pair, users are able to have a private conversation, with translations being directly delivered to each speaker’s ears.

While it may seem like Travis is in direct competition with smartphone translation apps, the device actually integrates a number of different apps and their language databases to quickly provide the best translation available. An advantage Travis does have over many of these apps is the way that it promotes spoken face to face communication over the often clunky, delayed experience of typing out the phrases you wish to translate in your phone. Travis’ 12 hour battery life is also expected to relieve strain on travellers’ smartphones by freeing them up for other important battery-heavy tools for navigating new destinations, such as GPS and browsing the net.

Immediately, it’s easy to envision how this device could be helpful on the go – from ordering food to chatting with locals in languages you aren’t familiar with. However, corporate jetsetters will be pleased to discover that the device is also geared towards international business. The Business Transcripts feature, which is available as a paid subscription, sends dictated meeting transcripts in both the original and translated languages directly to a specified email address or cloud drive.

While the Indiegogo campaign, which was used to fund the device in the early stages of its development, is long over, Travis is now available InDemand. This means that those who are interested are still able to order a device via the Indigogo page. The first wave of distribution is set for September 2017, and prices start from USD$149.00.

As travel technology enthusiasts, we are so excited to see how this new device continues to develop and redefine the translation technology space.