Smart Earpiece Translates Foreign Languages In Real-Time

By Sarah Benton Feitlinger on October 30, 2016

CCSS NAS-6 Word Search
Pilot (Image Credit: Waverly Labs)

Imagine being able to visit any foreign country without having to worry about the language barrier. Until recently, universal translating devices only existed in science fiction movies and TV shows. But technology is finally catching up with human imagination, and companies worldwide, are feverishly working to introduce universal translators. Among them is New York-based startup Waverly Labs.

Their solution, dubbed the Pilot, is a smart earpiece that instantly translates spoken language, allowing the user to have a seamless conversation, despite not knowing the speaker’s language. Waverly Labs founder and CEO, Andrew Ochoa, says he came up with the idea after being unable to converse with a French girl he liked.

The Pilot, which will debut in the spring of 2017, fits comfortably in the ear, just as an earbud might. The company provides two earpieces, one for each user. When either talk, the device in their ear picks up the sound of the speech, which then goes through a smartphone app that converts it into text, translates it into a spoken form, and then “whispers” it back to the listener in his or her language. As a result, the user is able the understand the other person despite not knowing the language.

Image Credit: Waverly Labs

The smart device also keeps out ambient noise, allowing users to focus on the conversation. When not needed for translation, the earpieces double as earbuds that can be used to listen to music. The Pilot smartphone app can also be used as a translation phrasebook and even for conference calls allowing participants speaking different languages to converse. Like all machine-based translators, the Pilot is not perfect. However, Waverly Labs asserts that it is much more accurate than the products currently available on the market.

Currently, the device is dependent on having a data connection and can only translate one-on-one conversations. Developers hope future generations of the Pilot will be able to translate all that is going on around a person, and function offline. They also hope to decrease the few second delays between speech and translation. The first version of the Pilot available on iOS and Android phones will come equipped with English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. More languages will be available as premium downloads during the latter half of 2017.

Image Credit: Waverly Labs

Although several tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Apple, are developing real-time translation programs, the Pilot is unique in that it is the first wearable translator. While the company has yet to ship the smart earpieces, thousands of people have contributed over $3mm USD to the company’s crowdfunding campaign for a chance to get them at a discounted rate. For those that missed out, Waverly Labs estimates that the Pilot will be available in retail stores by the end of 2017 and will cost about $299 USD.


Listen to the Article: Play Audio

Create MLA, Chicago, or APA Website Citation

Create a website citation for this article. We support MLA8, MLA7, APA, and Chicago citation formats.

VocabularyPlay Game


Article Comprehension (7 questions)

  1. What is the Pilot device?
  2. How will it be useful to people traveling to foreign companies?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Is a device like the Pilot a good idea for students trying to learn a...

Vocabulary in Context

More languages will be available as premium downloads during the latter half of 2017.

In the above sentence, the word premium most likely means:

(a) higher price or cost.


to use your custom avatar.
  • alexisThursday, March 9, 2017 at 8:14 am
    LUV IT
    • alexisThursday, March 9, 2017 at 8:13 am
      • personFriday, March 3, 2017 at 7:05 am
        this is awesome now i can talk to my cousin
        • ...............Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 2:36 pm
          this is so cool
          • person Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 7:58 am
            this seems rly cool
            • cupcakecuitieMonday, February 13, 2017 at 9:35 am
              What are yall talking about? plz tell me
              • Tiauna walerMonday, February 13, 2017 at 9:33 am
                I like dogo news
                • broMonday, February 13, 2017 at 7:36 am
                  my entire family is from either spain or venesuela and they all speak, or course, spanish. I can't understand them well, so this is very useful to me. I need to buy one!
                  • NateRollTuesday, February 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm
                    its funny cause its true
                    • yayTuesday, February 7, 2017 at 5:17 pm
                      thats insane its now becoming the future

                      Recent Comments

                      s916532 wrote:

                      These aren't glasses they're gog...
                      Finally! Smart Prescription Glas...

                      s916532 wrote:

                      Okay let me get this straight
                      Finally! Smart Prescription Glas...

                      Our Apps and Plugins