Our First Worldwide Experiment. Real-Time Interpretation of President Obama’s State of the Union Speech

Wow, what an amazing result for our first worldwide test! Here is a run-down from the past 24hrs.

First of all we want to thank our interpreters who volunteered to help people understand Obama’s Speech, as well as everyone who gave Babelverse a try. Thank you also to all those who spread the word, as that is essential for this type of community-based service. Here are few tweets that got the ball rolling out there about the service.

Babelverse To Offer Live Voice Translations For State Of The Union In Up To 7K Languages http://t.co/XYp25ylP by @ripemp
Do you translate? Join @Babelverse with a live voice interpretation of the President's State of the Union Address => http://t.co/rew5c2wg
Babelverse to Provide Live Voice Translation Service for Pres. Obama’s State of the Union in 6,976 Languages http://t.co/PgAVScAd
Babelverse to Provide Live Voice Translation Service for President Obama’s State of the Union Address: …in 6,976... http://t.co/4lCp1EtG

Screenshot of service


Yes, our goals are very ambitious, some would even say crazy. But we stand by them. Of course we didn’t get interpreters online in 6,976 languages on day one, but that is our vision and we are doing our utmost to make it happen.

After the 24 hour marathon to set everything up for the event (we only thought of doing this literally the day before!), we greatly enjoyed listening in live, switching constantly between different languages to hear our awesome interpreters and make sure it was all working well (which it mostly was!) If you were trying it out and encountered any glitches or have any other feedback, we are eager to hear it, contact us!

Short clip showing the service in action

Time to get some sleep

We then caught a few hours of sleep before digging into the stats:

  • More than 1000 people from over 80 countries tuned in to our service on the 24th.
  • Interpreters from around the world volunteered to provide the translation in a wide variety of languages, such as Spanish, Hindi, French, Mandarin Chinese, Greek, Bahasa Indonesian,  Portuguese, etc.
  • About 30% of the users were providing interpretation, while the rest were listening.
  • We had an average of 2 interpreters per language. Listeners could provide feedback by rating them, and could switch between them.

We think our concept was really proven last night, and will of course continue to improve and grow Babelverse, watch this space!

Press coverage

This project got a lot of coverage around the world and we woke up to many new users of different languages joining, such as Chinese (in its various forms: Cantonese, Mandarin, Wu, etc). All very encouraging. ;)