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Google’s new earbuds promise to translate 40 languages in real time

The Pixel Buds will be available in a few countries, including the US, from November.

Google announced its first ever pair of headphones at its Google Pixel event on Wednesday. Called the Pixel Buds, the wireless earbuds can translate 40 languages in real time, among other things, Google said.

Product Manager for Google Pixel Buds, Adam Champy, said a user just has to hold down on the right earbud and say, “Help me speak [name of the language]”. When the user talks, the phone’s speaker will play the translation in the language that the user asked for out loud, he said. When the other person replies in the foreign language, the user will hear the translated version through the Pixel Buds, he added.

Google, however, is not the first company to attempt such a device. Various startups including the United States-based Waverly Labs and Human Inc have made announcements about earphones or headphones that translate languages in real-time. In 2014, Microsoft came out with its Skype Translator feature, which translated about 4 languages over audio and 50 languages over Instant Messaging. It was not really real-time, though.

Many users on social media compared Pixel Buds to the Babel Fish, a fictitious fish from science fiction series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that burrows into your brain through your ears and performs instant translations.

Pixel Buds will be available in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and Germany from November, and can be used with Google’s new Pixel 2 mobile phone. Pixel Buds will be available for $159 (more than Rs 10,000) in the US.

“With Pixel Buds, we are excited to put all the power of the Google Assistant into a pair of headphones you can take with you everywhere, so you can easily control your tunes, get walking directions to the nearest coffee spot or have a conversation with someone from another country without ever pulling out your phone,” Champy said.

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