Personal translation devices have had a hugely transformative decade. Improvements to processing power, machine learning and cloud platforms have all played key roles in this development. The technology is increasingly becoming a mainstay of wireless earbuds, and the recent explosion of generative AI platforms will only serve to further these impressive results.
It’s easy to imagine a time in the not-so-distant future when real-time, in-person smartphone translation is a ubiquitous commodity. What, precisely, such a sea change would do to those companies building standalone devices remains to be seen, of course, but in the meantime, we’re seeing a truly world-changing technology grow increasingly accessible.
Timekettle first crossed our radar back in 2017, when TechCrunch was hosting an event in the startup’s home of Shenzhen. At the time, the young company was showing off a face to face communication device that looked like a pair of oversized earbuds. You take one, give the other to someone else and then start talking.
Announced today at CES 2024, the X1 Interpreter Hub is a more robust solution, designed for meetings. Timekettle calls it, “the world’s first multi-language simultaneous interpretation system” – a lofty claim, to be sure, but it’s certainly a compelling solution.
The system works out of the box, without having to download a separate app. For in-person meetings, two devices are touched together to initiate conversation translation. The handheld devices house earbuds, similar to past Timekettle products. All told, the X1 is capable of supporting up to 20 people at once in five languages.
The system can also handle virtual conversations. Remote users dial into the phone number associated with the product to access its translation capabilities.
The Timekettle X1 is available online starting today, priced at $699.