Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could travel the world and understand every word in any language, on the spot? Instead of taking a tiny dictionary with you, always checking it to ask the right question, imagine just having a personal translator by your side on every trip. Japanese startup Logbar created a portable one for the ordinary consumer called Ili.
Ili is smaller than your hand, looks like an Apple TV controller and can be hung around your neck. For unsuspecting strangers, like the Japanese girls in the commercial above, it looks like you’re recording something or taking an interview. In fact, Ili takes your sentence and translates it in seconds, at the push of a button, without the need of an Internet connection.
For the casual or lonely traveller, it might be the best problem-solver in existence. Asking for directions is going to be a piece of cake when it is released to the general public this summer. That being said, those of you who love making connections in vacations, not just visit museums, might find that it creates a barrier instead of dissolving it. Having to resort to a device every time you strike up a casual conversation is like always having a wingman nearby – it’s not natural or intimate.
From this point of view, it might be better to learn basic phrases in the foreign language of your choice so at least locals know that you’re trying to connect and learn about their culture. Moreover, becoming fluent in foreign languages activates areas in the cerebral cortex, thus providing an intensive workout for the mind and making you smarter in the long term.
Meanwhile, Ili could be a solution for short trips to countries like Japan and China, where it provides assistance. It remains to be seen if more languages will be added to this wearable’s portfolio this year.