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
Nov 30
A rare nine-legged octopus was discovered off the coast of northeastern Japan earlier this month, with those curious about the unusual creature now able to see it on display at the town's local nature center. (Kyodo)
Nov 30
A Japanese H-2A rocket launched Japan’s first Optical Data Relay Satellite with a laser communications payload in geosynchronous orbit. (Raw Space)
Nov 27
Medical experts have warned that the number of serious coronavirus cases is expected to rise further, likely overstretching Tokyo's general medical care system. (NHK)
Nov 27
Japan's asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 has completed its engine thrusts to adjust the orbit for returning its capsule to Earth next month. (NHK)
Nov 25
Japan and China are racing to build a new type of ultrafast, levitating train, seeking to demonstrate their mastery over a technology with big export potential. (Japan Times)
Nov 25
Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi says he is calling home every day from the International Space Station, just like fathers who have to live apart from their families because of job transfers. (NHK)
Nov 23
Health ministry data has shown the occupancy rate for hospital beds for seriously ill patients as of Wednesday last week rose in 17 of Japan’s 47 prefectures from a week before. (Japan Times)
Nov 23
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 hit off the coast of Japan's eastern prefecture of Ibaraki on Sunday night, but no tsunami warning was issued, according to the weather agency. (Kyodo)
Nov 23
The Japanese economy has failed to improve its reduction of carbon emissions over the last quarter-century, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Nov 21
Hospital capacity is being tested in the nation’s hardest-hit areas by a third wave of COVID-19 as a growing number of severely ill patients occupy a dwindling number of available beds. (Japan Times)
Nov 21
'Robovie' the robot works at a sports shop in the Japanese city of Osaka, where he usually directs shoppers to what they are looking for. But during the pandemic, he has a new task – reminding customers who are not wearing a mask to put one on, and asking people to keep their distance when queuing. (Rappler)
Nov 21
Japanese astronauts Koichi Wakata and Satoshi Furukawa are scheduled for long-term missions on the International Space Station, Japan's science minister Koichi Hagiuda revealed Friday. (Kyodo)
Nov 20
Data released by a group of researchers show the average 10-year survival rate of cancer patients in Japan stands at 58.3 percent. (NHK)
Nov 19
Google has begun providing forecasts of the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths in Japan. (NHK)
Nov 19
Kyushu Electric Power Co has restarted the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear plant in southwestern Japan after completing mandatory upgrades to protect the facility against terrorist attacks, a spokesman said. (Japan Today)
Nov 19
More than 150 women in Japan have made use of a major Denmark-based sperm bank amid an absence of rules on business transactions related to sperm and ova, the company said Tuesday. (Japan Times)
Nov 18
Members of the SpaceX Crew Dragon are now settling into the International Space Station -- their home and workplace for the next six months. (NHK)
Nov 18
Japanese supercomputer Fugaku has retained its position as the world's fastest. (NHK)
Nov 14
The town of Takikawa on the northern island of Hokkaido purchased and installed a pair of the robots after bears were found roaming neighbourhoods in September. (Daily Mail)
Nov 14
Japanese Nobel Prize winner in physics Koshiba Masatoshi died on Thursday at a hospital in Tokyo. He was 94. (NHK)