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Speech bubbles are popping straight out of comic books and possibly into the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Fukidashi is a translation device created by Panasonic's artificial intelligence group and 100BANCH, a Tokyo-based accelerator. It's purposefully designed to look like a talking bubble, the universal sign for conversation.
Two screens on each side of the gadget write out what each person is saying in real time, in that individual's native language.
"We would like to enhance casual conversation between foreigners," says Yumiko Shinohara, who developed the device. "Especially, for Japanese [people], it is very hard to say hi to foreigners. Sometimes Japanese [people] feel very nervous when speaking to foreigners, so we would like to provide some trigger to start a more friendly, natural conversation."
Fukidashi is still a prototype and can currently translate four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. However, it's available for developers to add more languages in the future.
In addition to plans to have the Fukidashi at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Shinohara hopes to one day see the device breaking language barriers in restaurants and airports.