Only in Japan: Translator robots for tourists

The bright lights of Seoul at night. Pic: Shutterstock.com

JAPAN is set to take its love affair with robots to the next level next year by offering small devices that can bridge the language barrier between tourists and locals.

With Japan experiencing a tourism boom, Kinki Nippon Tourist and Japanese technology firm FueTrek have teamed up to make robot translators a reality.

TTG Asia reports that “the companies are planning to launch a new service in early 2016 that will provide small robots capable of acting as translators, as well as tablet computers and wearable devices that will be able to translate speech in a number of languages.”

The devices will use specially designed speech recognition and text translation software to help business owners communicate effectively with Japan’s influx of foreign visitors.

Driven by an increase in travellers from China, Korea and other Asian countries, the numbers of foreign visitors to Japan topped the 10 million mark for the first time in 2013, before rising to 13.4 million in 2014. The figures continue to grow, with more than 2 million people travelling to Japan in July 2015 alone.

While the robots will certainly serve a purpose, it can’t be denied that it’s an impersonal solution. Brushing up on your ‘konichiwas’ and ‘arigatos’ will go a long way towards enriching your Japanese experience. The locals will appreciate it too.

As James Mundy, PR manager at Inside Japan Tours told TTG Asia:

“I think Japanese people will still appreciate a foreigner making the effort to actually speak their language with the use of a phrasebook. The effort goes a long way and makes for more meaningful interactions with the people of Japan.”

Here are a few phrases to get you started:

Image via Shutterstock