Anybody who travels regularly knows the pain of needing to communicate in a foreign tongue. It’s both tactless and unreasonable to expect that everybody knows English in a foreign country, so you’ve got to drag along a phrase book or take a language class, and hope whoever you’re talking to doesn’t suddenly fire off a bunch of slang. Fortunately, the Sigmo is being developed to make sure you’ve got a translator with you wherever you go.
The Sigmo is simplicity itself. First, you pair it with your smartphone, which does the heavy computational lifting, via Bluetooth. Then, it’s just a matter of pressing buttons: Hold down the first button and speak, and it’ll translate your statement into one of twenty-five different languages. To understand the response, hold down the second button; it’ll record and fire back the statement in your language.
It’s also designed to be small and light, so you can keep it with you at all times, whether hanging it around your neck or strapping it to your arm. The idea is that wherever you go, you’ve got Sigmo on hand to help you find a bathroom, order some food, or at least make a sincere if fumbling attempt to not be the stereotype of the ignorant loudmouthed tourist.
We do have one question, though: How important is the smartphone, and how key is the cellular connection? We ask because that could be the weak point; Not everybody buys a SIM card to use overseas, and without that, it might limit the effectiveness of the Sigmo. True, dual-SIM phones and virtual SIMs are becoming more popular, so there are solutions to this, but it’s worth remembering.
Either way, we’ll see the Sigmo up on IndieGoGo shortly, and we’re looking forward to it; it looks to be a creative solution to a tough problem.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.