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How technology can bridge the language barrier at events

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Are human translators a thing of the past? A growing crop of new technology aims to facilitate seamless communication across language barriers. Here we take a look at a three of these applications, and how they could be used to improve delegate experiences at international events.

Text: Google Translate’s Visual Translator

Something straight out of the future, this new feature by the internet giant’s popular translation app allows users to point and translate. 

Indecipherable signs and notices are read and decoded by the tool, and translated into the user’s own language. This makes on-the-spot translation of instructions, directions and even road signs, a reality. Google's Translate App has the potential to make delegates’ lives much easier when arriving in and navigating their way around a foreign city.

Video: Skype Translator (in preview stage)

These days, the popular videophoning application is so much more than just a way of staying in touch with family and friends abroad.

Ever since Microsoft bought Skype, the technology’s business and commercial communication potential has been undergoing rapid development. Skype Translator is an on-screen, real-time interpretation service that allows users to speak in their native language, then translates it into both text and speech for the other user or users.

Although still in development, this has enormous potential at events. Organisers could approach a greater range of speakers, confident that language would not stand in the way of their delivery. Experts whom delegates would like to hear from would not be precluded due to simply not speaking the language. The nature of Skype also means that delegates can enjoy a direct ‘beam’ in from someone on the other side of the world, which adds to the novelty and excitement of the experience. 


Short for ‘Droid Translator’, DROTR is a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service that simultaneously translates voice and video calls.

While it only operates on Android devices, as its name suggests, DROTR is finding use as a way to overcome language difficulties when trying to book and organise services abroad. For event organisers and travel bookers, this could be a handy tool when dealing with venues and suppliers in far-flung overseas locations. The combination of voice recognition and voice synthesis also opens up possibilities for live addresses and presentations at conferences, across language barriers.

So it seems that the future is bright when it comes to bridging the language barrier. As new technology comes into use, the possibilities for more connected and cohesive events becomes ever greater.

Planning to host an event abroad? Read more on our Destination Management page.

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