Wearable translator ili works without Wi-Fi

LAS VEGAS • A Japanese start-up said to have once produced "the worst product ever made" is back with a fancy wearable translator that works between English, Chinese and Japanese, the media reported this week.

According to the website Ubergizmo, the ili, available for pre-orders from March or April this year, translates in real-time with no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth needed. Business Insider said it is a pendant users can wear around their necks and looks like an old-school iPod shuffle.

To use it, a person needs to hold down a button and speak. When the button is released, the unit audibly translates the words into English, Chinese or Japanese. The company, Logbar, introduced the gadget early this week at the Consumer Electronics Show gadget-fest in Las Vegas that runs from Wednesday to today.

The ili, which translates between English, Chinese and Japanese, will be available from March or April. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

As only a demonstration version was unveiled, it was unclear how a two-way conversation would work, or if the company plans to integrate a switch so interlocutors can flip back and forth among two languages, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday.

Logbar said the device can work without the Internet as it features a built-in translation engine and a pre-loaded vocabulary library of up to 50,000 words and phrases. The company plans to add French, Korean, Thai, Italian, Spanish and Arabic languages in the future.

The ili is expected to offer about 24 hours of battery life and retail for around US$200 (S$288), according to the SCMP.

Logbar was slammed in 2014 by its Kickstarter supporters for making a failed ring motion controller after raising nearly US$1 million on the crowdfunding platform.

The device that was intended to let users "control anything" from one's texts to one's home appliances using hand gesture commands did not work, users said. Some reviews labelled it "the most disastrous product launches of all time".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Wearable translator ili works without Wi-Fi'. Print Edition | Subscribe