Hancom, Panasonic Attack Olympic Language Barrier In Pyeongchang, Tokyo With Translation Tech

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo both pose a unique challenge to athletes and visitors that hope to communicate effectively. Korean software company Hancom’s “Genie Talk” app and Panasonic’s “Voice-Based Multi-Language Translation System” have emerged as two viable translation options to help bridge the conversational divide.

Hancom markets Genie Talk as a translation app that can act as a traveling companion or language learning assistant. Hancom developed the software for Genie Talk in collaboration with Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ETRI), a South Korea-based tech powerhouse.

According to ETRI’s website, Genie Talk currently offers translation services for five different languages, including Korean, English and Japanese. Each boasts a library of 100,000 to 800,000 words. The two companies plan to add three additional languages — German, Russian and Arabic — in anticipation of the upcoming Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Genie Talk claims a 10 percent higher translation rate than Google’s translation platform when used in tourism related areas. Taking the process a step further, the Genie Talk application allows users to receive translation feedback from spoken, written and photographically captured words. The two companies intend to create an interface that can offer translation support for, “50,000-strong athletes and visitors from over 100 countries,” according to the ETRI website.

Panasonic introduced its own translation platform at the Consumer Electronics Show last month with an eye toward 2020 when the Olympics come to Tokyo. Tech influencer Andru Edwards demonstrated Panasonic’s Multi-Language Translation System on a tablet between a user speaking Chinese and another speaking English. Panasonic’s interface utilizes a beamforming microphone array to filter out ambient sound from user’s surroundings and relay a clear message.

In a less practical application, Panasonic released in November a megaphone that automatically translates a user’s speech into English, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Panasonic envisions the megaphone’s primary use case being police and crowd control officers.

Pyeongchang has declared the slogan of the 2018 Olympic Games, “Passion Connected” and claims, “Korea’s cutting edge technology will connect traditional and modern cultures, and transcend generations,” according to the website for the games. Panasonic and Hancom both look to play a significant role facilitating said connection via technology.