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Andrea Drever
By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

It was a beautiful evening, and I was blissfully dining alone on a spectacular oceanfront terrace in Mykonos. A handsome man a few tables over was also solo. The restaurant owner, none-too-pleased that were taking up so much space, escorted the man over and announced that we would be eating together. My new dinner companion spoke French, my knowledge of which is spotty at best, so we struggled awkwardly to communicate. Before our entrees had arrived, the electricity went out, and everyone was forced to leave the restaurant. Did I want to spend the evening together, inquired the beautiful French man? Sadly, the prospect of clumsily trying to communicate eclipsed the possibility of dining with this dashing man, falling in love, getting married, and sharing a beautiful Parisian apartment with our French bulldog and 2.5 bébés. We went our separate ways.

I’ve often thought of how that encounter could have been so different if I’d just been brave. Or, had an easy way to communicate. An in-ear translation device could have changed the trajectory of my life. Or, at the very least, my evening.

There are several good options on the market, and all of them allow you to listen to someone in a foreign language, understand what they say, then respond to them, and have them understand what you say. The translation technology isn’t found on the earbuds themselves. It’s on your phone. The earbuds simply serve as a conduit. Here are some of the top wireless, in-ear options.

The Ambassador Interpreter  

This option from Waverly Labs, one of the trailblazers of this technology, translates 20 languages and 42 dialects. It comes with two ear-units, and is compatible with a free iOS and Android app. $199. 

Google Pixel Buds

This one’s only for Android users. It works with Google Translate, and interprets 40 languages. It also integrates seamlessly with Google Assistant, so ask ‘em anything. $249.

Timekettle WT2

Said to be the first truly bi-directional simultaneous translation earbuds, translating in real-time as you speak and delivering it to your listener’s ear in as little as half a second. Supports 40 Languages & 93 Accents. Works with iOS & Android. $240.

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