Headphones for simultaneous interpreting: do we still need them?

It looked like they were about to revolutionize the world of interpreting, the headphones with built-in simultaneous interpreting presented in 2019 at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the global technology convention held in Las Vegas every year. For a moment, the launch of the new headphones  made interpreting agencies worry, as they saw their business undermined by these devices equipped with artificial intelligence. But when put to the test, the headphones showed that their translations were not accurate — when they were not completely wrong — and that they could not keep up with the pace of a normal conversation. For them to work decently, interlocutors need to speak slowly, simply and in short sentences. And who can afford to understand only half of a conversation or is willing to speak in an unnatural way in order to accommodate the performance of a set of headphones? Maybe a tourist who is asking for directions in the country he is visiting, but certainly not a professional who needs perfect translations to carry on his business. So, ultimately, these headphones with machine interpreting have turned out not to be a threat for human interpreters, who remain irreplaceable.

Remote interpreting with or without headphones

What can change is the need to rent headphones for simultaneous interpreting when buying an interpreting service. When you choose an interpreting agency like Rafiky, which offers remote interpreting, you have two possibilities as far as the use of headphones for simultaneous interpreting is concerned.  Depending on the type of audience, you can decide to create an ultra-tech and casual event, in which participants are asked to download the Rafiky app on their smartphones and to listen to the livestreamed translation through their personal earbuds. The audio is great, but you need to have access to a powerful internet connection able to support all the devices connected to the platform. This solution is therefore more suitable for smaller meetings.

If you are organizing a larger event, perhaps with an audience less used to rely so heavily on smartphones, you can choose a more classic approach, while still being innovative. You can rent traditional headphones for simultaneous interpreting that you will distribute to the event participants. Rafiky will send you wireless headphones that connect through normal digital receivers, lightweight and easy to use. Participants will not even realise that they are benefiting from remote interpreting, since the effect is exactly the same as if the interpreters were in the room. Especially for crowded conferences, renting headphones for simultaneous interpreting will avoid the risk of overloading the internet connection and of finding someone unprepared to use his or her own smartphone.

Whether you need headphones or not, Rafiky is the agency for you

Apart from these two variables, what does not change when using remote interpreting is the fact that there is no need to rent other interpreting equipment, such as booths or consoles for interpreters. As seen in our previous articles, a PC and a good internet connection are enough to access the interpreting service via the Rafiky online platform. Whether you need headphones for simultaneous interpreting or not, Rafiky is able to fulfil all you requests and to provide you with a full-scale interpreting service.