Soon, airport employees in Japan may not need a translator or have be versed in various languages in order to give instructions or updates to passengers. A new (and impressively futuristic) multilingual megaphone can do the translating job for them. Panasonic has developed the "Megahonyaku," which is a combination of “megaphone” and “translation” in Japanese. The device allows a user to speak into the megaphone and have the words automatically transmitted into three languages: English, Chinese or Korean.
It's a little reminiscent of Skype's new translation software, except that this technology doesn't require you to stand in front of a computer.
One of the busiest airports in Japan, the Tokyo Narita International Airport, will soon be testing the new product. However, demonstrations for the media have already taken place with an early model. You can see how the technology works in the video below.
If all goes well, this could benefit airport personnel worldwide who have to deliver multilingual information and updates. In addition, the device could be an invaluable benefit during times of disaster or emergency. For example, consider major catastrophes like the Asian tsunami. When this disaster occurred, foreign aid workers had a difficult time speaking with individuals in need, as they didn't understand the language fully. Additionally, tourists had a hard time understanding what they were being told by those in change and where they needed to go to get the required help. Ultimately, this megaphone could give us a quick way to communicate information.
It's not exactly a universal translator, but we're getting there.