Google launched a good shipment of new devices, among which the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones stood out. But one of the biggest revolutions seen last night was not so much the one offered by their smartphones as that of the small headphones that they presented behind them, the Google Pixel Buds.
These new headphones are not only a good response to Apple Airpods, but they offer a feature that makes them stand out from any of the many wireless headphones that have been presenting the major brands in recent months. It’s about your ability to translate in real time in 40 languages.
The translation is provided by a new Google Translator application, and enhanced by automatic learning of artificial intelligence from Google Assistant. In summary we could say that with this experience is like having your own translation device, only that it is all inside the headphones themselves.
How the Pixel Buds translation works
Pixel Buds do not have Google Assistant integrated, so the first requirement to make use of the translation function is to connect them to a device that does have it, such as the Pixel 2 phones presented yesterday. Once connected, you will have to run the application on the mobile and configure it with the languages you will use.
As for how they work, when you wear the headphones and have them set to use this function, everything someone tells you will be translated into the language you have chosen. For example, if you have a friend who speaks in English, immediately after I tell you something, you will hear the translation in your language on the headphones.
When answering, you will only have to press a touch button on the outside of the right earpiece. This will activate the microphone, and the headphones will stay listening to you. The application will understand your answer and perform the translation in the language that your interlocutor was using. It will not do so through text, but using the speakerphone. This way, your interlocutor will not even need to have other Pixel Buds to be able to interact with someone who does.
This application translates a total of 40 languages, among which we have from Spanish, English, Catalan, Chinese, Japanese and the main European languages to other less common languages such as Norwegian, Cambodian or Nepalese. Google has also ensured that with a full charge of the headphones we will have up to five hours of listening, and that with the casing you can charge them enough times to have a total of 20 hours of listening.
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Obviously in the demo they performed on stage during the presentation everything went well, but we still have to be able to test them thoroughly to check factors such as the quality of the translations or the effectiveness of voice recognition in all languages. It is also necessary to check how they behave when there is no connection to the network.
Why Pixel Buds can change everything?
Creating universal instant translators has long been a dream that many have tried to achieve. Companies like Waverly Labs have already launched projects such as Pilot, headsets connected to the mobile like those of Google, and we have also seen initiatives such as Travis or the wearable that Fujitsu announced to be developing.
Many of these initiatives have not managed to make enough noise due to lack of muscle, or simply because they are only projects for the future. What Google has done is to launch a device that works for everyone, and that is easy enough to use so that anyone can use it. A device that takes a function that we were all waiting for, the translation in real time by voice, and democratizes it with headphones.
In addition, the project is the responsibility of the Division of Articicial Intelligence and Machine Learning of the company, which is the sector that is giving more importance to Google. That assures us that one of the most powerful companies in the world will put all their muscle into continuing to improve these functions. Come on, that does not seem to be a parallel project, but one of the many functions of a Google Assistant in which they are investing many efforts.
And finally, there is the fact that it uses machine learning algorithms, so Google Traslator can improve its instantaneous translation functions as more people use it. This makes the Pixel Buds an unexpected rival to beat in a task as important as to facilitate communication. This gives Google Assistant a good point, and it will be interesting to see how Apple, Microsoft or Amazon react.