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Alan J. Pierce EdD
          
pierceaj@techtoday.us
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Timekettle WT2 Plus Wearable Translator Review (MSRP $179.99)

     I speak only one language and this makes communicating with people who donít speak English very difficult. It would be nice to have a universal translator similar to the Sci-Fi one made famous on the TV show Star Trek.
     The company Timekettle is trying to meet this need and this review describes my  testing and opinion on the functionality of their  WT2 Plus Earbud translator, see photos 1 and 2. Setup was extremely easy if you use the correct app from the Apple or Android stores. Instructions say ďsearch Timekettle in the Apple or Play store and download the latest appĒ. I downloaded the Timekettle app from the play store and it didnít work. With help from the company I learned this unit has its own WT2 Plus app, see photo 3, and once it was loaded all setup problems were solved.
     This translation system has three modes and the company indicates it is capable of translating between 40 different languages. You do need to have internet service for the system to work without special translation packages. More about these offline translation packages later.
     The Simui mode requires you to hand over one of the earbuds to the person you want to speak to and for them to place it in their ear. In my opinion, one would have to be a little crazy to put something foreign into their ear that a perfect stranger gave to them. That said in these Covid times testing this mode without foreign language speakers required some ingenuity. With one earbud in my ear I turned to YouTube for my foreign speakers. I placed the other earbud next to the speaker on my computer and it translated what the people in the videos were saying. I tested a few different languages. See photo 4. During translation what the person was saying appeared in their native language and also English on my smartphone screen and at the same time what they were saying in English was also spoken into my ear by the earbud.
     The translations had about a four second time delay which would make a two way conversation with a person awkward. The phrasing did not perfectly match the open captioning that appeared with the video but it was accurate enough to understand the message the speaker was trying to get across.
     The Touch Mode works like keying a microphone. Touch and hold to speak and when you remove your finger from the earbud what you said is translated into the other language. The person you are speaking to would do the same thing. The only reason I can see why you would select this mode over Simui is a noisy environment.
     The Speaker Mode works the same way as the touch mode but you need to hold your cellphone out towards the person. To walk up to a perfect stranger who does not speak English and hold out your cellphone and hope they just donít take it and run seems a little crazy.

Translation Packages
     For the earbuds to work without internet service you will need to download language packages that you will have to purchase. The WT2 Plus includes one free language package for English/Chinese translations. To download it you need to be using the Timekettle app and like I said the one from the Google Play store wasnít working. What I found is that if you download this app using the QR code from the instruction card it does work. Using this version of the Timekettle app I downloaded the free language package, put my phone in Airplane mode, shut off WiFi and turned on Bluetooth. Without internet service I was able to do translations between Chinese and English. I used HYPERLINK "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM2hLQdmE1U" Chinese President Xiís Jinping New Year address from YouTube and the translation was very good. See image 5. Image 6 and 7 show a small piece of the translation from Russian to English and French to English.

Reasons to Drool
     Translations between different languages were reasonably accurate.

Not So Cool
     The earbud does not fit securely in your ear and it definitely felt like it was going to fall out. The hook they provide that would connect to the earbud and sit over your ear did not work at all for me. The idea of giving a stranger an earbud to place in their ear or holding out my smartphone to try to start a conversation seems like a non starter for me. A separate microphone/speaker that one could hold out for speaker mode, and an earbud design that fits snuggly in your ear could make this product a winner.