Video: How in-ear translator WT2 crosses borders

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Hardware startup Timekettle wants to make translation devices more human.

The two-year-old Shenzhen-based company has begun production on its flagship product, the WT2 in-ear translation device.

Timekettle marketing specialist Kazaf Ye said he believes in-ear translation is a superior method to a device or app that users must pass back and forth.

Ye said that when typing and passing a device back and forth, “You don’t have the eye contact. You don’t have the body language. That’s not natural. That’s not human.”

The company previously targeted travelers, but upon beginning an initial production run, found that only 40% of their consumers were travelers, while another 60% were using the product domestically.

“If it’s only a question, like, ‘Can I get to the subway station? Can I order a steak?’ I think those simple questions, you can do it with the handheld translators. But we provide solutions for long-time communications and deep communications.”

Ye said that typical customers include business users and couples who want to better communicate with international in-laws.

“Because the world is connecting so closely together nowadays,” Ye said, “even though if you don’t travel to foreign countries, they will come to your countries, so you’re going to make more friends.”