Oct. 1 - Japan's biggest mobile carrier, NTT DoCoMo, has developed glasses that automatically translate foreign languages. It's hoped the glasses, unveiled by the company this week, will make life easier for foreigners visiting Tokyo during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Rob Muir reports.
Bowing to the fact that very few foreigners understand Japanese, mobile carrier DoCoMo has developed what it calls "Intelligent Glasses", designed to translate written Japanese into the wearers' language of choice. DoCoMo engineer Shinji Kimura says the glasses are a user-friendly vehicle for existing technology. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) NTT DOCOMO RESEARCH ENGINEER, SHINJI KIMURA, SAYING: "We'd already developed this Augmented Reality app for smartphones which translated text where you pointed your camera, but it felt really unnatural. So instead of walking around the street pointing your phone at signs and things we thought it would feel more natural to make glasses which could mimic the way we see things in real life." What a wearer sees is captured by a camera and sent to a cloud server. Japanese characters are analysed in real time by a software programme which then sends a translation back to a viewfinder on the glasses, where it is displayed in front of the wearer's eye. Docomo sees a ready market for its technology, leading up to potential sales bonanza in 2020. SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) NTT DOCOMO RESEARCH ENGINEER, SHINJI KIMURA, SAYING: "When foreigners come to Japan for international events like the Olympics, we feel it would be really useful if they could look at menus and things in Japanese and be able to automatically read them in their own language. So that's our goal, and we're trying to get development finished in time for that." And by then, the company hopes to have streamlined the technology and improved the design..so that culture hungry visitors don't find themselves in the soup.