Language can be a great way to unite people, but it can also be a great barrier when people speak different languages. After all, not everyone speaks multiple languages fluently, and it can definitely be hard to navigate or do business in a country when one does not understand that language.
In the sci-fi classic book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, traveler Arthur Dent had the use of a ‘babel fish’ to translate all alien languages. (The small, yellow fish when placed in the ear can help the listener instantly understand anything said, in any form of language.) Now, it seems that real-life is imitating science fiction with the recent announcement of Google Pixel Buds.
The blue-tooth ear buds have many functions similar to other ear buds (assistant, messaging, music, etc.) but they also have one striking new feature – the ability to translate language in real-time when paired with the Pixel 2 phone. Languages included are Arabic, Swedish, French, Japanese, German, Chinese, and many more.
Here’s how it works: Tap and hold down the right earbud, thereby activating Google Assistant (paired with a Pixel 2 phone in your bag or pocket). Then, ask for help speaking a language. This then activates Google Translate, and you speak the phrase you need translated. The translated phrase appears on the phone screen and is read out of the phone speaker. The person you are speaking to then holds down the mic button and speaks the answer, which is then translated directly into the ear buds.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Show a video of the Google Pixel headphone launch event: https://youtu.be/Q5bA12koB-g
- View product information: https://store.google.com/us/product/google_pixel_buds?hl=en-US
- Poll students: Who would be interested in using these? Why or why not?
- Other translators and devices also exist. Have students research other models and compare with Pixel ear buds.
- Discuss target markets and market segmentation.
- Have students develop a target market profile for this device.
- What should the marketing plan be for the new ear buds?
Source: Google, The Verge, CNBC, New York Times, other news sources.