Language translation: Is there a product that could improve communication at our assisted living facility?

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Is there a product that could improve communication at our assisted living facility?

Question

I manage an assisted living facility where over 50% of the population speak Cantonese. The others speak many other languages. Is there a translation program or hardware that is easy to use so we can increase communication and a sense of community?

Our answer

It’s so important to be able to communicate easily within any setting to build a sense of community. Fortunately, there are many products on the market that may be able to assist you with the challenge you describe. These fall into two broad categories – apps for use on computer tablets and smartphones, and stand-alone devices. We’ve listed them accordingly:

Apps for use on tablets and smartphones

    • Google Translate by Google LLC is a free translation app with many different features for translating most languages. One feature is the ability to translate a two-person conversation. After setting the two languages, the application detects the language and translates back to the other language. The application is available for both Android and Apple devices.
    • SayHi Translate by SayHi LLC is a very simple free app that allows for two-way translated conversation through both voice and text. There are two microphone buttons, one for each speaker. A Cantonese speaker would press the Cantonese button, speak into the device, and the translated English will play from the device for the other speaker. Afterward, the English speaker would press the English button to respond, and that speech would be translated into Cantonese. The application is available for both Android and Apple devices.
    • Microsoft Translator by Microsoft Corporation is a free app that allows for two or more speakers in a multilingual conversation. There is a split screen-mode to facilitate a two-way translated conversation. Or, if speakers have their own devices, they can join the same translated conversation group – up to 100 speakers! The application is available for both Android and Apple.

Stand-alone devices

    • Time2Translate Lifestyle Smartwatch by LingMo International (at amazon.ca) is a simple smartwatch with several features including real-time two-way translation. This watch relies on WiFi or data from a SIM card. It costs about $175 (Cdn).
    • Travis Touch Plus by Travis (at amazon.ca) is a remote-control-style device designed to translate languages in a face-to-face conversation. This device relies on WiFi or data from a SIM card. It costs about $400 (Cdn).
    • Ambassador Interpretor Earbuds by Waverly Labs are smart earbuds that synchronize with a mobile app to offer real-time translation. The device offers a “listen” mode that provides the user with in-ear translation and a “converse” mode for translating conversation. The device costs $199 (U.S.) plus shipping fees. 

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