New Tele Scouter Glasses Could Provide Instant Translations

The new Tele Scouter glasses could make overseas trips easier by instantly translating words and broadcasting them into your retinas.

Traveling to a foreign country is always fun, but wouldn’t it be nice if you were able to have a real chat with the locals that consisted of more than “hello,” “thank you,” and “do you speak English?”

You could take language classes before your trip, but if you don’t have time to do that, or just don’t have the knack for memorizing a whole alphabet, a new Japanese invention could provide just the tools you need for a flowing conversation.

A technology firm, NEC, has created a new line of glasses called Tele Scouters, which lack lenses but include projectors that can broadcast images directly onto the wearer’s retina. The sophisticated specs were created as a business tool, to allow sales staff to receive information about customers’ buying habits, which is beamed directly into their eyes during sales calls.

However, the creators say that future versions of the Tele Scouters could include a microphone that would pick up the voice of your conversation partner, instantly run the words through translation software, and beam the translation into the wearer’s eyes, to allow for almost instant translation during conversations. The company says that the glasses could be a perfect tool in high-risk situations, where using a professional translator would create a liability.

Don’t expect to pack a pair of Tele Scouters in your bag for your next trip to Spain, though: the subtitled specs won’t be commercially available until 2011. Even so, the invention could provide a fantastic opportunity to promote understanding between cultures.

“It’s like glasses improving somebody’s near-sightedness,” translation technology expert Don DePalma told BBC News. “It’s a pair of glasses with a device that allows a person to get past this inability to speak another language—a sort of linguistic short-sightedness.”

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