Next to map data overlays, one of the most often discussed concepts for apps that could propel augmented reality smartglasses into the mainstream is a real-time language translation app.
Now, Netherlands-based startup Zoi Meet is promising to deliver just that with a new app it recently demonstrated on the Vuzix Blade.
As a fan of language study, I'm generally skeptical about any new app claiming robust, real-time language translation — I've tried so many of these apps and found that they usually fall short. I haven't had the opportunity to directly test the Zoi Meet app on the Vuzix Blade, but if it performs as shown in the video, it would be a significant development.
According to the company, the app currently translates 12 languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Japanese, and Korean.
In the demonstration video, posted this week, we see a Vuzix Blade user step off an elevator, walk into a business office, and then begin communicating with various workers, with the smartglasses displaying real-time translations of different languages.
To get the app working, Zoi Meet says its solution uses its own "proprietary voice to text and language translation algorithms." It should also be noted that the founder of Zoi Meet, Nick Yap, also founded Travis, a startup that held a crowdfunding campaign last year to raise nearly $300,000 for a pocket translation device. Although the two companies operate separately, according to a Zoi Meet spokesperson, the two startups are partners on initiatives that leverage their respective software and hardware products.
"Spoken language is an integral part of communication and bringing real-time live multilingual transcription services to smart glasses really levels the communication playing field for everyone," said Paul Travers, the CEO of Vuzix, in a statement. "This application can be utilized by individuals and business travelers alike communicating with others on a daily basis."
Currently, the Vuzix Blade is still making inroads in the enterprise space and isn't really on the radar of your average consumer. With Vuzix about to release a new version of their headset — which will be more fashionable and look more like normal glasses — Zoi Meet could turn into a killer app.
All that said, I've been down this road before with several translation apps, so until I get to try it myself, I'll remain hopeful, but guardedly so. In the meantime, the company says the app should be available in the Vuzix app store later this month.