Despite heavy investment from the military, perfect machine translation from one language to another won’t be available any time soon. But those of us who are more interested in chatting briefly with a new acquaintance who doesn’t speak the same language, or just trying to order a sandwich in a foreign country, don’t need polished translations that won’t inadvertently spark military or diplomatic fights.
Enter these glasses, which provide translation—albeit slowly—in the form of subtitles.
Inspired by the still-in-development Project Glass—Google’s foray into augmented-reality eyewear—British DIYer Will Powell created a pair of specs that can display a rough translation during a conversation. Below, Powell and his sister speak in English and Spanish over a chess game. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s a beautiful way to show how technology could break down language barriers.