Tourists to Japan are fueling a boom in personal translation devices
Japan Times -- Aug 08
Takehiko Fujita wouldn’t be able to do his job selling eye drops and pain relievers without his pocket translator.

Instead of an app, language dictionary or call-in translation service, the clerk at a Japanese drugstore uses Pocketalk, a ¥25,000 device made by Sourcenext Corp. that looks like an oval puck. The gadget translates phrases to and from 74 languages, helping Fujita communicate with customers from around the world.

Tourists are flooding into Japan, with 31 million people visiting the archipelago in 2018, triple the number six years earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Businesses are struggling with visitors looking to shop, eat and move around — a situation that will probably worsen during next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Seeking to tap into demand, electronics maker Fujitsu Ltd. and office supplier King Jim Co. are challenging Pocketalk’s 94 percent market share with their own products.

“I’m not worried anymore,” said Fujita, who works at a Takeya store in Tokyo’s Okachimachi area. He used to rely on Google Translate to talk to customers, but now he picks up the Pocketalk dangling from his neck to chat with people. “I can speak to people who… come from foreign countries and might not understand me.”

While smartphone apps remain a popular — and common — translation tool, Pocketalk has carved out its own niche. Dedicated for just one purpose, the gadget has a sensitive microphone, and accesses machine translation and voice-recognition software from Google, Baidu and others, improving accuracy. More than 500,000 Pocketalk units have been sold since it debuted in 2017.

News source: Japan Times
May 29
At the beginning of April, a young sumo wrestler known as Shobushi came down with a fever. His coaches tried calling a local public health center to get him a coronavirus test, but the phone lines were busy. (Japan Times)
May 28
Medical cannabis, particularly CBD, is one of the most discussed topics in the world today. (newsonjapan.com)
May 27
Japan's cargo spacecraft Kounotori 9, the last of the Kounotori transporter series, has successfully docked at the International Space Station. (NHK)
May 26
One of Japan’s major annual electronics shows will be held online in October due to safety concerns arising from the novel coronavirus, organizers said Monday. (Japan Times)
May 25
Japanese medical institutions are seeing a lightening in their coronavirus caseload, health minister Katsunobu Kato said Sunday, in yet another indication the government is set to imminently lift a state of emergency over the Tokyo metro area and Hokkaido. (Japan Today)
May 25
The Japanese capital suffered more than 200 excess fatalities from pneumonia and other coronavirus symptoms early in the outbreak, dwarfing the period's officially recorded 16 from the new disease. (Nikkei)
May 25
The local government in the city of Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, has announced that a person who traveled from the Philippines had developed rabies — the first case in Japan in 14 years. (Japan Times)
May 25
Over 40 percent of the coronavirus-linked deaths in Osaka involve hospital infections, sources in the prefectural government told Jiji Press on Saturday. (Japan Times)
May 24
At least one-third of 86 hospitals designated by the Japanese government to provide advanced treatment have been forced to suspend part of their services such as elective surgeries and emergency care to make room for treatment of new coronavirus patients, a recent Kyodo News survey showed. (Japan Today)
May 22
Japan launched a rocket Thursday carrying a Kounotori unmanned cargo vessel, developed by the national space agency, on its final mission to transport supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). (Japan Times)