How the Internet of Things is changing the Game in the Translation Industry

by | Oct 16, 2018

The future is now, and clear proof of that is the revolution of the Internet of Things. In this article, we will analyze how this is affecting the language and translation business.

Nowadays, languages aren’t just used by people. Devices, machines, and computers are also able to interact with each other and with us. This fact has certainly positioned communication as a key element of technology.

But, before going further, let’s go back to basics:

What is the Internet of Things?

Maybe you aren’t very familiar with the term yet, but we’re pretty sure that you’ve already heard of it or experienced it at least once. Do HomeKit, Alexa, or Google Home ring any bells?

The Internet of Things, also known as “IoT”, refers to the digital interconnection between any device to the Internet. It is all about bringing objects to life through the power of Internet and making them communicate through wireless protocols, domains, and applications.

This technology will make, or better yet, is already making items like refrigerators, washing machines, lights, and even coffee pots smarter by allowing them to gather certain data in order to function more efficiently and improve our lives. Pretty awesome (and scary), right?

Despite the fact that this is a relatively new thing, companies are certainly making great advances on the field and applying this technology to even the most complex industries. And, the more “objects” become connected devices, the more challenges arise.

One of this challenges is communication, and with communication comes languages and translation.

How is IoT affecting the translation world?

IoT is changing the way we interact with products and how fast we perform tasks with them, which demands for almost instantaneous communication. This instant communication not only needs to happen between machines, but also between the devices and users.

High speed requirements

With IoT, devices are not on and off but are connected 24/7, transferring data and content in real time. The time companies spend designing and releasing these smart devices is becoming less and less, and the improvements made to them (like patches and updates) are being pushed in very short periods of time in order to meet the client’s requirements almost immediately.

Language service providers and translation teams need to be prepared for this new reality by providing faster turnarounds and being able to assure instant and uninterrupted flows of communication in several languages.

Closer collaboration and real time work

The agile environments and development cycles also require bringing together all the actors involved in making an IoT device come to life.

Companies are finding that they need to spend more time in contact with their language vendors to make sure everything is working correctly and according to their software developments. In turn, translation companies are needing to build more specific translation teams, with translators that are able to work rapidly and constantly with these continuous work chunks.

Because time is short, translation management systems need to incorporate platforms in which engineers, project managers, translators, and reviewers are able to collaborate simultaneously, being able to translate and make adjustments in real time without losing time guessing, reviewing context references, or on any of those back-and-forth actions that are so time consuming.

Content in multiple forms

In the connected world of IoT, devices are expected to fully understand users and users should also be able to fully understand the devices. But what exact content needs to be localized for this to happen?

That depends on the device. However, besides the regular materials that are translated in the technology market (like user manuals, marketing materials, and interfaces), IoT device localization also includes applications, databases, voice-over commands, customer support, and all types of content and communications that help customers better interact with the product.

Oh, and let’s not forget that, because devices never go offline, new and unprecedented data is generated all the time. Therefore, content is unstoppable.

Localization as a must

User experience is everything. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. No matter how great a machine, device, or product is, if it doesn’t speak in the language of the user, it can’t communicate or, in this case, interact properly.

For example, in the near future, during a trip to Japan, how could you give a command to the smart car that’s driving you to a hotel if it only speaks Japanese and you don’t?

Users all over the world want to be approached in their mother tongue and want to see products that take into account their culture and are specifically targeted to meet their local needs. Having this in mind, localization in this new era of connected devices is not an optional thing, but a must.

Internationalization differences

With the need for localization in IoT comes all types of differences, including technical things that might not typically be localized by linguists but rather must be customized with the product itself.

Within a device, many things need to be directly changed or reviewed to see if they work or not in the target country, like geolocations, units of measurement, voltages, types of systems, and even things like icons and currencies.

Cisco predicted that by 2020 we will have more than 50 billion devices connected with IoT improving the lives of millions of people. For the translation industry, this is an opportunity but also a challenge to incorporate language solutions that take into account different cultures, while still being agile enough to meet the ever-growing instant technology requirements.

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