When you find yourself in a foreign country, you may encounter some language barriers that will make your mad dash to the washroom even more challenging. After all, you may have no idea how to ask for the location of the nearest, ahem, facilities.
The Apple iPhone has tons of applications available to it and one of the latest is Speeek for iPhone, a translation tool catering to the Japanese market. Instead of whipping out a dead tree edition of a phrase book, all Japanese users need to do is load up the Speeek App, say what they want to say in Japanese, and it will output the phrase in English or Chinese. This is both with text and an actual spoken voice.
That’s the functionality at its core, but unfortunately, it’s not quite so straightforward. First, the app will only recognize about 1,500 predetermined Japanese phrases so it will be a bit limited in its ability and vocabulary. Second, users must choose from eight types of phrases: restaurant, travel, sightseeing, flirting, basic talk, emergency situations, and transportation. Anything outside of these types of phrases will not be translated.
For example, if an avid gamer finds himself itching for some fighting video games, he can’t ask Speeek for iPhone to output something like “Where is the closest arcade with Street Fighter IV?” Maybe that falls under flirting or emergency situations.
Softbank Japan is selling the Japanese-to-Chinese and the Japanese-to-English versions of Speeek for iPhone for $20 each.