NEC Eyeglasses Translate Foreign Languages

These glasses still sound a little like a concept to me, but several blogs are reporting their existence, so they're worth spending a little virtual ink on, so long as it's taken with a grain of salt. The glasses, designed by NEC, are the perfect international travel companion in that they take a foreign language, intepret it into your own language and then cast the intepretation onto your retina so that you're able to seamlessly speak with others (or at least understand what they're saying).

The device features four parts: the glasses, a microphone, a projector and computer. The computer is worn around the waist and serves to translate the language being spoken. The microphone, of course, provides the audio input. The projector displays both the original language and a translation of what was said into the user's native language. It casts them onto the user's retina. Two people using the system would be able to hold a productive conversation without the need for an interpreter. 

Supposedly, the retina projection is a world first and helps one to use the glasses for hours without any eye strain. The projection is on the peripherals of the vision, meaning that one can look directly at the person with whom he's speaking. 

While the uses for these glasses are numerous, there a variety of potential complications. First, walking around in an oddball pair of glasses with a computer strapped to your belt is hardly the first impression you want to make in a foreign country. The system seems like it would only work well if both users had a pair of glasses, so it unfortunately wouldn't be useful to the common traveler, but only for situations that were set-up ahead of time (e.g. business meetings). Finally, if there were a glitch in the translation, it could lead to some pretty awkward and potentially offensive conversations. 

Despite the possible problems, such a pair of glasses could be an extremely useful and exciting development. While we're not 100% hopeful, NEC is reportedly trying to get the glasses ready for market by 2010. They'll be aimed primarily at business users. 

Via: FareastGizmos

Oct 29, 2009
by Anonymous

Same poster as above

Here are some famous quotes run through Google's translator and back into English to illustrate the above point:

Original: A house divided against itself cannot stand
Into Chinese and back: A house divided against itself can not be established

Original: I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.
Into Hungarian and back: There is social illness. We have to go every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs.

Original: A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.
Into Korean and back: What should people in spite of personal consequences - in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures do not - and is the basis of all human morality.

Original: Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Into Japanese and back: Please afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, you are thrust greatness, and some of them.

Original: Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil term for weakness.
Into Dutch and back: Children, I must be innocent, but when the epithet is applied to men or women, but it is a civil term for weakness.

Nov 3, 2009
by Chris Weiss

Great points. That's exactly

Great points. That's exactly why I was skeptical of these glasses from the beginning; it seems like too much of a stretch to think that these could ever work smoothly, at least with the technology available today. 

On the other hand, perhaps for very short, concise business conversations, where there isn't as much room for misinterpretation as some of the more poetic phrases above, they might work well enough. Perhaps not. 

Either way, I like the concept a lot--even if it's more a look into the distant future than a look at something practical now. I appreciate your insights.