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Language of love won't get lost in translation

This Digital Life

Published 16/01/2016

Kiss off: investors will hope the creepy TV ad for the ili translator doesn’t put off buyers
Kiss off: investors will hope the creepy TV ad for the ili translator doesn’t put off buyers

A new device which translates whatever you say into another tongue could be a real boon for travellers, but it's rather a pity about the rather creepy promotional video, says Katie Wright.

I'm gonna try and kiss girls I've never met before using this translation device," a blonde, blue-eyed Brit announces cheerfully while pressing a button on the little white rectangle that hangs from a chain around his neck.

He releases the button and a female voice parrots back his declaration in Japanese before our lascivious protagonist sets off on his quest in a video titled 'Kisses in Tokyo'.

"It's very normal in the UK," he tells a horrified-looking Japanese girl, before we see another woman running away from him, and one actually bashing him with her handbag.

He eventually succeeds, telling his kissing conquest that no-one's looking (despite the fact they're being filmed), before concluding, "That was amazing."

Yes it was: amazingly creepy, that is.

But if you can bear to sit through this terribly misguided promo clip, you'll see it's actually showcasing a very cool product.

Called ili, the device instantly translates between English, Chinese and Japanese using an in-built lexicon designed with travellers in mind. But isn't that just a standalone version of apps like Google Translate?

To an extent, yes, but Google's translator, particularly with voice commands, can be slow and unreliable, and is less powerful when it's not connected to 3G or Wi-Fi, whereas ili works just as well offline - only its docking station needs to connect to the net in order to get updates and improve the lexicon.

The makers claim that, in a travel setting at least, it "outperforms all existing translation engines".

If true, it could be incredibly useful.

Let's say you fall ill while travelling in rural China, where English speakers can be hard to come by.

Having the ability to quickly find a doctor could quite literally be a lifesaver.

Unveiled during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, the gadget was created by Japanese start-up Logbar.

The firm's first foray into wearable tech was its eponymous £180 motion detecting ring, a chunky silver sensor used to control your phone and home appliances.

That wearable was incredibly badly received, particularly by the backers who pledged nearly a million dollars to put it into production, with users claiming it barely worked.

If you want to find out whether ili is an improvement, Logbar is currently looking for travel industry businesses to try its latest invention, but the rest of us will have to wait until the summer for the finished product.

Provided it works well, and that hideous video hasn't put you off, ili could be a talking cure for Logbar's ills.

Visit www.iamili.com

Belfast Telegraph

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