In order to assist Japanese companies who are facing increasing numbers of foreign visitors, the Panasonic Corporation will begin offering a megaphone capable of automatically translating Japanese into English, Chinese and Korean. This megaphone will be available on December 20th for less than $180 USD per month for a three year contract and is targeted to corporate customers.
There are 300 preset Japanese phrases on the megaphone. The phrases were primarily selected for train stations, airports and other areas tourists frequent. These locations have a need for speedy announcements like, "your flight has been delayed" which is what the megaphone is aiming to address.
Panasonic claims the device is user-friendly and can even function in times of emergencies when there is loud background noise. A user speaks into the megaphone, and it translates what was said instantly into English, Chinese and Korean through its speaker.
Bloomberg reports that it was developed in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and will eventually work in real-time using cloud-based translation software. See this Bloomberg article to watch a video of the megaphone in action.
Users can add new words or phrases and get updates by connecting to the internet.
This new tool is an interesting solution to address the need for timely translation for foreign travelers. This could be very beneficial in times of emergencies and could potentially expand into other industries beyond tourism. While this megaphone only offers a few languages currently, I would expect their language capabilities to expand as the needs arise.
For more information, please see: Panasonic to launch megaphone that can translate on the fly.
Translation and Localization Resources
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- Japanese Kanji: A Shared, Visual Language
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- Japanese Language Translation eBook
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About the Author
Peter has over 18 years experience in business development within the localization industry supporting clients for documentation, software and website globalization services. He started his career in the translation industry in 1995 and over the years has worked for several leading localization service providers. Throughout his career Peter has led by example and always put his clients’ needs first to ensure client expectations are understood and successfully met. Over the years Peter has trained extensively in Solution Selling, Action Selling and Localization Sales, Testing and Project Management. Peter handles many of GPI’s global accounts helping educate clients on GPI’s comprehensive suite of globalization services and industry best practices.More Content by Peter Betts