Vasco Electronics at CES 2023: the future is simultaneous translation | CES 2023

In the “lore” of Star Trek, the famous science fiction saga inaugurated way back in 1966, the universal translator was always available to the crew of the Enterprise to communicate with the various alien species encountered in the exploration of unknown space. In fact, he had been invented for narrative purposes, thus having a device available to allow the dialogues between the crew and the aliens to be made intelligible in a simple way. However, he immediately became part of the collective imagination, not only of fans of the series. Always following the lore of Star Trek, the first example of universal translator would have been invented in 2151 (year of the series) and therefore we would have to wait even more than a century to use it too…

Vasco Electronics

A universal translator available now

The equivalent of the universal translator instead in “our universe” already exists e the market leader in this sector it is Vasco Electronics, which produces “vertical” devices designed exclusively for mobile translation. The top of the range is called Vasco Translator V4 and allows you to carry out instant translations in 108 languages. The device resembles a small smartphone, with a touch screen to navigate between the various options. The heart of the product, however, is the audio part, with high-quality microphones and loudspeakers, essential for correctly interpreting the speaker’s voice and for listening to the translation being made. The operating mechanism is very simple, you select two languages ​​and speak in the source language, obtaining an instantaneous translation into the target language. The areas of application are the most varied and it was precisely starting from the usage scenarios that our chat at CES in Las Vegas began with Maciej GoralskiCEO of Vasco Electronics:

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Maciej Góralski CEO of Vasco Electronics

“We are focused on travellers, but often it is not travelers who buy our products. Among our customers there are paramedics, military and more generally government institutions, police, hospitals, even prisons. Because a product like Vasco Translator V4 solves the problem of communicating with people who don’t speak the local language or English. When there is an emergency, time cannot be wasted and language often becomes an insurmountable barrier, we solve this problem. Returning to those who travel for tourism, if they stay in Europe it’s not a problem, but if they decide to go to more distant places, where not everyone speaks English, then our products can become very useful.”

Vasco’s products have an essential feature, which allows the service to work anywhere in the world where there is cellular network coverage. In the price of the product is including hookup service, without having to pay an additional fee. The connection is necessary because the device captures speech, converts it into text and sends it to a server, where the actual translation takes place. The server then sends the text back to the device, which in turn converts it into the speech of the target language.

The future is simultaneous translation

In addition to the use scenarios with Maciej Goralski we talked about the development of automatic translators and the CEO of Vasco Electronics has very clear ideas: “My goal is true simultaneous translation. We have already reached very interesting performance levels today, but we have not yet arrived at simultaneous translation, technology today does not allow it”. Maciej explained to us that it will take about five years to get to a real one simultaneous translation, which for him means being able to listen to the translation while the other interlocutor is speaking. With current Vasco devices, translation is immediate and there is a substantial difference, because the translator must “listen” to everything that is being said before translating, with the process of transcoding and sending to the server we were talking about earlier. To achieve the goal of simultaneous translation there will need to be substantial improvements in every single step of the process. They will have to improve the hardware components, starting with the microphones, and the software ones to move from the current quality to simultaneous translation. The comparison used by Maciej to explain himself better was that of a car race. It’s one thing to get a certain lap time, but once you get to the limit, shaping even just a few tenths more becomes very, very difficult and you need to work on all the car parameters at the same time to improve overall performance. In the same way, Vasco will work over the next few years to realize the CEO’s vision of achieving true simultaneous translation.

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