Baidu is trying to make it easier for tourists to get around in China, Japan, and English-speaking countries. According to Nikkei, the Chinese web company and search giant is developing a gadget that will be able to listen to someone speak in one language and then immediately repeat it back in another language.
While that’s something various phone apps can do, Baidu’s translation device — which doesn’t have a name yet — may have some benefits. For one, it wouldn’t be a drain on your phone’s battery. And more importantly, it’d be ready and waiting at all times, instead of a phone app that needs to be opened up and set up before a user can get going. Baidu seems to be building a dedicated internet connection into the translator too, and it’ll reportedly be able to work as a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Nikkei says that Baidu plans to launch the device in China, with units being available both to buy and rent. The rental option makes a lot of sense here, as this seems like a device you might need for only one or two weeks a year, at most. It’s not stated how soon the product will go on sale, and for now, the only available image looks like a mock-up, so it’s not clear how far into production this gadget is. It’s supposed to be smaller than a smartphone and weigh about five ounces.
At launch, Baidu will reportedly be focused on Chinese tourists traveling abroad, but the company is apparently looking into launching the device in Japan next year. There’s no word on which other languages the device will support, but Nikkei reports that it’ll be compatible with cell networks in 80 countries.