Little Translator GadgetCould Be a Traveler’s Best Friend


If you’re lucky enough to get to travel abroad, you know it’s getting easier and easier to use our phones and other gadgets to translate for us. So why not do so in a way that makes sense to you? This little gadget seeking funds on Kickstarter looks right up my alley, offering quick transcription and recording – plus music playback, like an iPod Shuffle with superpowers.

The ONE Mini is not that complex of a device – a couple of microphones and a wireless board in tasteful packaging – but that combination allows for a lot of useful stuff to happen both offline and with its companion app.

You activate the device, and it starts recording and both translating and transcribing the audio via a cloud service as it goes (or later, if you choose). That right there is already super useful when you have meetings to transcribe, or you’re meeting one-on-one with someone who doesn’t speak English.

Recordings are kept on the phone because there is no memory onboard the device. There’s an option for a cloud service, but that probably won’t be necessary, considering the compact size of these audio files. If you’re paranoid about security, this probably isn’t your solution, but for everyday stuff, it should be just fine.

If you want to translate a conversation with someone whose language you don’t speak, you pick two of the 12 built-in languages in the app and then either pass the gadget back and forth or let it sit between you while you talk. The transcript will show on the phone, and the ONE Mini can speak the translation in its little robotic voice.

Right now, translation is only available online, but the company plans to offer offline translation for specific language pairs that have reliable two-way edge models, probably Mandarin-English and Korean-Japanese.

It has a headphone jack, too, which lets it act as a wireless playback device for the recordings or your music, or to take calls using the nice onboard mics. It’s lightweight and has a little clip, so it’s probably better than connecting directly to your phone in many cases.

There’s also a 24/7 interpreter line that charges two bucks a minute. Though most people won’t use the service, in an emergency, it could be pretty helpful to have a panic button that sends you directly to a person who speaks both the languages you’ve selected.

Right now you can buy a ONE Mini for $79. They’ve already passed their funding goal and are planning on shipping in June, so it shouldn’t be a long wait.

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