Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Smart spectacles aid translation

Woman wearing subtitle specs, AFP/NEC
The spectacles are due to go on sale in Japan in 2010

Spectacles that can provide subtitles have been created by hi-tech firm NEC.

Resembling glasses but lacking lenses, the headset uses a tiny projector to display images on a user's retina.

NEC said it planned a version that used real-time translation to provide subtitles for a conversation between people lacking a common language.

The firm said the gadget, dubbed Tele Scouter, was intended for sales people or employees dealing with inquiries from customers.

NEC said the Tele Scouter was intended to be a business tool that could aid sales staff who would have information about a client's buying history beamed into their eye during a conversation.

But, it said, it could also be put to a more exotic use as a translation aid. In this scenario the microphone on the headset picks up the voices of both people in a conversation, pipes it through translation software and voice-to-text systems and then sends the translation back to the headset.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

At the same time as a user hears a translation, they would also get text subtitles beamed onto the retina.

"You can keep the conversation flowing," NEC spokesman Takayuki Omino told AFP at a Tokyo trade show where the device was unveiled.

Mr Omino said the system could also be used for confidential talks that would be compromised by the use of a human translator.

NEC said the Tele Scouter would be launched in Japan in November, 2010 but would initially lack the translation feature. A version that can provide subtitles would follow in 2011, it said.

When it goes on sale, a batch of 30 headsets will cost about 7.5m yen (£50,000). The cost does not include the price of the translation tools and software.



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