Thanks to technology and the explosive growth of the on-demand economy, many of us are now rethinking the way that we do business. Much in the same way that Uber has revolutionized travel, giving customers the freedom of movement without the often-burdensome purchase and upkeep expense of owning a vehicle, new technology and products are aiming to make the field of interpreting more affordable as well as accessible to businesses.
In order to understand why this development is a big deal, we first have to take a look at the main problem associated with traditional interpreting services: cost. Several years ago, in a budget analysis, the Norwegian government discovered that, in 2015, nearly half of the overall interpretation budget was spent on transportation-related expenses, not on actual interpretation.
Digging a little deeper into interpretation billing, it’s easy to understand how non-interpretation expenses can take up a significant portion of budget. Considering a one-day engagement with any reasonable amount of travel, there’s ½ day fees for travelling to a location, actual travel expenses, hotel/accommodation expenses, and another ½ day fee for the return trip. Essentially, this means that your business is paying for an extra day of services as well as accommodation expense.
Clearly, this model is not sustainable, especially for smaller projects, such as a short conference call or an hour-long face-to-face meeting. Thankfully, there are more affordable alternatives, and both solution groups fully embrace on-demand services.
Logically, considering that a recent Ericsson Consumer Labs report noted that 63% of global participants would like earphones that translate languages in real time, there is the technology group, which embraces devices and smartphone apps. Among these are a cadre of translation earpieces, such as Kickstarter-darling Timekettle’s WT2 Plus, which, when paired to an iPhone or Android device, can translate up to 15 seconds of speech with around five seconds of delay to process the translation into 21 different languages. Another in-ear translator, the Pilot from Waverly Labs, seeks to allow interpretation and conversation across 15 languages and 42 dialects with proprietary NMT technology and has already reached USD 5 million in preorders.
While smartphones and affiliated devices are king, there are a lot of other gadgets which are fit for a piece of the market. Specifically, for those looking for the full audio interpretation of a conversation, Chinese speech recognition company iFLYTEK offers the handheld Translator 2.0, which can translate Chinese into 51 languages and has also received a coveted CES Innovation Award this year. Industry heavyweight Google has always supported language translation for its ecosystem-running Google Assistant, but this service is now being extended – as Interpretation Mode – to act as a consecutive interpreter for 27 languages; however, it’s worth noting that this function is not available on smartphones and is only currently usable for simple conversations.
Technology is king in the modern business mindset, when it comes to using current technology to offer on-demand services, there’s no need to invest in several billable days for an interpreter to travel to a location when the same services could be rendered via an Internet connection and Skype, Join.me, WebEx, or even Google Hangouts.
Much like a Swiss Army Knife or a portable power bank, the services of an interpreter are something that you never really think about unless you need them. That being said, perhaps it’s time to reassess your needs. Given, there are occasions where on-location interpretation is both necessary and well-worth the financial outlay; however, by treating every occasion like this, you could be needlessly costing your organisation a lot of money. Whether your interpretation needs are large or small, daily or occasionally, it all comes down to finding the perfect fit for your needs.
At EVS Translations, in-house teams of interpreters, project managers and interpreting equipment technicians in 8 interpreting centres around the world provide turn-key solutions for both on-site simultaneous interpreting and consecutive interpreting, along with off-site phone- and video-remote on-demand interpreting (an instant web or mobile access to the latest videoconferencing technology and a pool of trained professional video interpreters.)