DIY glasses let you translate foreign languages on the fly

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Star Trek is slowly bringing us all kinds of cool tech. Tricorders and Holodecks are on the horizon. What’s next? The universal translator would be a nice step. Stuff like that already exists online. There are services such as Babelfish and there are iPhone apps like Word Lens. Still, these are all imperfect sciences. To truly capture the nuance of language requires a fair bit more computing power than what is found in a browser based application or a cheap app. Also, it would be cool if this extra computing power could be routed to a humble pair of glasses for a neat hands-free display.

This Trek-esque future could almost be upon us. A designer named Will Powell has been tinkering with some concept glasses that he says was partially inspired by Google’s forthcoming Project Glass. Once they are slipped on you can see what someone speaking another language is actually saying. This makes communicating a whole heck of a lot easier. The best part? He built it from parts you could go out and buy yourself. It’s running via a couple of Linux boxes using Debian Squeeze, a Vuzix 1200 Star, Jawbone Mic, headset mic, TV, iPhone, iPad and Asus Transformer. See? Not so bad.

There is a bit of lag when the glasses are used but it’s nothing major. Besides, Powell says this will decrease significantly in future iterations of the device. He also says, as of this reading, his invention can handle 37 different languages! That’s almost the entire population of the Olympics.

This is only a working concept design for now but imagine if this blossoms into something we use in our daily life. Cultural misunderstandings would certainly be majorly reduced. It’s certainly something nice to think about. Until then, check the video below.

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