This in-ear translator will hit eardrums next month

by Claire Reilly

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Aussie startup Lingmo is farewelling language faux pas with an earpiece that can translate eight languages, taking seconds, and it could be yours within a month.

Lingmo's Translate One2One earpiece translates spoken conversation across English, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Chinese, all without the need for Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Using IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding and Language Translator APIs, the company says the device can translate words "within 3-5 seconds."

But unlike sci-fi fantasies, this baby could be in your pocket by next month.

It's not the first time we've seen technology attempting to overcome the language barrier. Google Translate uses machine learning to translate typed phrases and even signs and menus (with varying degrees of success) into more than 100 languages, while US company Waverly Labs showed off a prototype in-ear translator known as the Pilot at Mobile World Congress earlier this year.

But while Waverly Labs claims the Pilot is "the world's first smart earpiece language translator," IBM and Lingmo claim the Translate One2One will be "the first of its kind to hit global markets" when it ships next month.

The device is available for purchase online for $179 (that's roughly £140 or AU$237) for delivery in July. How it handles your complex sushi order on your next trip to Tokyo remains to be seen.