By Mario Toneguzzi
Pocketalk is the new and easy way to have a real conversation with someone who speaks a different language.
And the two-way translation device, by Japanese company Sourcenext, can have big implications for retailers helping them improve and enhance customer experience leading to more sales.
The company is hoping to launch the device in Canada in the coming months following regulatory approvals.
Johji Kuroda, Director of Business Development for Sourcenext, said JINS, a leader in eyewear sales in Japan, has used the unique device as a staff communication tool at their Grand Roof Front Tokyo Station store for over a year now.
About 15 percent of all store visitors are foreigners, with Chinese, Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Singapore, US, Canadian, and European customers all coming in to the shop, which can make communication a bit difficult.
JINS staff is using Pocketalk to provide a smooth, luxe consumer experience. Ordering prescription eyewear can be incredibly nuanced, but Pocketalk allows customers to precisely communicate what they need down to the finest details.
The JINS experience is a shining example of how North American retailers can benefit from incorporating Pocketalk into their customer experience.
On its website, company founder and CEO Nori Matsuda, said he “created Pocketalk to make it easy to have a conversation with someone who speaks a different language. I believe that the simple act of conversation can bring people closer together, and open a world of possibilities for society as a whole.”
Sourcenext, a public company traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, is the largest distributor and creator of software, hardware, and IoT products in Japan. Founded in 1996, Sourcenext specializes in helping companies like Rosetta Stone, Dropbox, and Evernote, sell their software products and apps to a market of millions. And now with the launch of Pocketalk, Sourcenext is bringing its own products to the world.
Pocketalk is a portable, AI-powered instant voice translation device that breaks down language barriers and bridges the gap between different spoken languages. It is one single device supporting 74 languages and more coming.
Kuroda said the device does need to have data connection to operate. The device comes with a SIM card and the device is sold for about $300 which comes with two years of a data plan, no set ups, no monthly fees and no sign ups with local mobile carriers.
“That data plan is global and works in over 120 countries,” said Kuroda.
For example, if someone is travelling and spending time in another country, outside their hotel or resort area or tourist attraction, they will find themselves in places where the language spoken is the local one.
“That’s where this device is really convenient to connect with the people,” said Kuroda.
“In Canada, we are looking into the regulations, with regard to the signal that it sends out. We are looking into it. We just need to register some sort of consumer product regulations and we should be able to tell by this summer.”
A good example of its potential use is a place like Banff, Alberta that sees a very strong tourist base every year, particularly from Japan. Imagine foreign customers being able to communicate with local retail staff and not having language as a barrier.
“In retail places, and in very highly populated tourist areas, it’s very popular to have this to enhance the customer experience and help sales,” said Kuroda.
The device has applications for a number of different businesses including transportation, hotels and hospitality.
“Everywhere they want to enhance communications.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.