Innovation That Matters

Hand-held device provides instant translation for emergency services


ELSA is a portable device that instantly connects responders with a translator at the push of a button.

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The Japanese Hanashite Hon’yaku app already helps international colleagues and friends to have phone conversations translated in real time. But for emergency workers that come into contact with citizens that don’t speak the language, communication can still remain difficult. With this in mind, the ELSA is a portable device that instantly connects responders with a live translator at the push of a button.

Designed to be worn around the neck or clipped to the belts of police, firefighters or ambulance drivers, the ELSA – which stands for Enabling Language Service Anywhere – is a small plastic speaker and microphone system that can connect to one of a team of always-on-hand interpreters. Developed by RTT, the device includes a single button that can be pressed whenever emergency services are dealing with someone that can’t speak English. RTT’s translators are proficient in 180 languages and dialects. Users can also record the conversations for later playback and transcription if necessary. The video below from 12 TV explains more about the system:

Although developed for those who need immediate language translation, it’s possible the device could also find applications in government, law and business situations. Are there other ways to help improve communication across culture and language barriers?

Spotted by: Murray Orange



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