We're getting very close to a Babel fish era, where you can just stick something in your ear and converse fluently with any human on Earth. But in the meantime, we have our smartphones. Travis the Translator is a new project on Indiegogo that strips out most of the smartphone fluff to create a simple, portable translation device.
The device supports over 80 languages when it has a SIM in it, or a Wi-Fi connection, and 20 languages in offline mode. The creators of Travis have apparently partnered with several different companies to include the "best translation engines" for each language. Travis has a stripped-down UI for selecting what languages you're trying to work with, and it can auto-detect languages, as well.
Unfortunately, right now the working demo of Travis is an extremely rough prototype, larger than a tablet — the handheld version is just a mockup. Of course, there's nothing impossible about fitting this tech in the proposed form factor — again, smartphones exist — but it's a little worrisome for an Indiegogo campaign that already requires a lot of faith.
So far Travis has raised well over its low-ball $80,000 funding goal. The team says they'll start trial production soon, mass production in May or June, and deliver to backers by July, so maybe the device isn't as far off as it looks, or maybe someone's being a little naive. A retail launch is planned for winter of this year after "testing and learning" with initial users.