Communication, no matter in what form it may come, is at the heart of human interaction. Even before we could ‘speak’, as it were, our hulking, hairy ancestors found ways to get their message across be it by grunting, pointing or singing while accompanied by Og on the Mammoth bones.

As the eons flew past we found evermore elaborate and sophisticated ways of communicating, from speaking, to writing, to the Internet, the greatest instrument of mass communication since Johannes Gutenberg risked execution by not only printing the Bible but doing it in German rather than high-falutin’ Latin.

We have also concocted numerous ways of killing each other, from spears to muskets to assault rifles to fighter-planes in the, depressingly large, number of cases in which communication has failed. Despite epic cock-ups such as World War One, tenured historians still have a difficult time clearly explaining exactly why it happened, there is still hope for the human spirit as, even in times of great strife, there are still those seeking communication and connection. This is part of the reason why people are still trying to become polyglots and why most other people are still impressed. This is also why there is likely to be much excitement, elation and swooning now that there has been created, by the raving geniuses at Waverly Labs, an instant, verbal translator called the Pilot earpiece language translator.

Douglas Adams was right

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One of the most interesting aspects about the Pilot earpiece is not only how accurately it was predicted but by the source of this foresight. Douglas Adams, as many of you may know, was a British author of what could broadly be called ‘science fiction’, at least in terms of his famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books (and radio plays and so forth). He has done other things but this is the thing for which he is best known, aside from his legendary lateness. Both the ‘other things’ and what else is in Hitchhiker’s, such as the overt surrealist comedy, being part of the reason why it is so surprising he was eventually right. Not only did he, likely inadvertently, predict both tablet computers and Wikipedia (the ‘guide’ of the title coming in the form of a flat, book shaped, hand-held computer, holding information that is dubious at best), the first book in the series featured an alien species of fish that, when inserted in one’s ear, can instantly translate countless languages, allowing for easy conversation across the galaxy.

(Love) origin story

For all the reasons that world changing innovations are created, the Pilot Earpiece has one of the most interesting, conceived of when the English-speaking creator met a French-speaking woman with whom he wanted to be able to communicate better.

The art of talking: how the Pilot earpiece language translator works

While not an alien fish, the device actually resembles a large earbud headphone of which it also doubles as a wireless version, the Pilot earpiece does go into one’s ear with much the same result, instantly translating foreign speech into one’s native lingo. How is that for futuristic?

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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