Nimdzi Insights is proud to announce the Virtual Interpreting Technology database. Virtual Interpreting Technology (VIT) – one of the fastest growing areas in the language industry today. As we can see from the Nimdzi “What buyers want” report, technology is high on the list of priorities of language service buyers (LSBs). It is the fourth most important to individuals and the sixth most important to companies when selecting a language services provider (LSP).
This sector is developing at such a speed thanks in part to the development of Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC). WebRTC is a free and open Google-devised project that allows real-time communication on web browsers and mobile applications using simple application programming interfaces (APIs).
Of the over 60 interpreting technologies on the market today, almost 20 of these technology companies have only been around since 2014. It is a newly booming sector in the language services industry. There may be many more being developed as we are writing this report and expanding the VIT database. Additionally, the existing new players are constantly updating and relaunching newer versions of their products. It is definitely an area that deserves attention and a field we are excited to be studying.
The VIT market is fragmented. Therefore, if you are in the market for interpretation services, it is important to look at what is out there, available to you, and most suitable for your specific use-case. Nimdzi designed the VIT Overview and VIT Compare tool to make this easier for you.
When we say fragmented, each technology has a distinct use-case or two and they all have varying functionalities. Some are meant to be used at conferences, some by end-users traveling abroad, some are only suitable for web conferencing, and so on. The functionalities range from allowing multi-language webinars to one-on-one video calling and some even have the bandwidth for unlimited users, which means that they can potentially be used for stadiums of people.
As someone who might need access to an interpreter, now you can browse the Nimdzi VIT Overview. You can filter by your specs and find the right tool for you.
The VIT Compare tool allows you to compare up to four technologies to decide which platform is best for your needs. It’s the easiest way to find out which technology is the most suitable for your business, event, or travel.
Nimdzi is launching the VIT database in beta. We will continue to accumulate information, research, and conduct briefings with VIT companies. The tool will evolve, change, and grow while it is live. As mentioned, there are over 60 interpreting technologies and this version has a fraction of that number with completed profiles. With that said, if you are a VIT company and want to get in touch to correct a listing or to include your technology, please contact [email protected].
While conducting briefings for the database, one response was conclusive — there needs to be a better name — almost all respondents mentioned the fact that the space has a myriad of names and none of them are all-encompassing or sufficiently define interpreting technology. Here are some examples of terms used for various kinds of Virtual Interpreting Technologies:
Remote Interpreting, Cloud-based interpreting, Multi screen remote interpreting, Interpreting at virtual meetings, Audio remote interpreting, Single screen video remote interpreting, Audioconference interpreting, Videoconference interpreting, Distance Interpreting, Video remote interpreting, Simultaneous remote interpreting
One of the most commonly used terms is remote interpreting but there are negative connotations attached to the word “remote.” One definition of remote is ‘unlikely to occur’. When you look up the word “remote” in the thesaurus, synonyms include lonesome, faraway, inaccessible.
In part, the use of this terminology can lead to a negative perception of interpreting enabled by modern technology. For the reasons listed above, we thought it was time for a rebrand. We are labelling these technologies: Virtual Interpreting Technology or VIT.
VIT has been seen as a threat to interpreters since the concept started getting traction. Popular media headlines include “Can technology replace human interpreters?” and, “Will artificial intelligence make interpreters obsolete?”. Simply put, the answer is “not yet!” Virtual interpreting technology is breaking down barriers to communication and is now providing access to interpretation where it was not possible before.
The opportunities far outweigh the drawbacks. The majority of the technology on the market today use human interpreters. The technology just allows a different medium for end users to access interpreters.
The cost of interpreting can be high. The bulk of this cost is travel and lodging for the interpreters to physically be present. In most cases, these technologies cut out those costs and allow interpretation at events with interpreters who can do the job remotely. If that is not the case, the technology is cutting cost in other ways (eg. bring your own device (BYOD) technologies might have interpreters on-site but they reduce cost by cutting out the need for renting traditional receivers and attendees use their smartphone as a receiver instead).
Technology is empowering the use of interpreting where it may not have been previously possible — this is an advantage for the interpreting industry. The purpose of interpreting is to allow communication despite language barriers. These technologies facilitate that and make it easier for users to understand and to connect.
Refers to the scenario for which the VIT is best suited as well as in which situations it can work well
How the end user listens to the interpretation provided
If the VIT supplies interpreters with the technology — what is the source of the interpreter?
Indicates the origin of where the software receives audio
Refers to the security precautions that are in place to ensure the audio (if recorded and stored online) is safe and cannot be hacked:
Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to conference organizers
Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to individual clients
Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to LSPs
Some VITs offer interpreter management features where you can schedule interpreters, find out the location and subject matter specialties of the interpreters.
With which software the VIT integrates
How interpreters use the software
One year ago, we called the VIT hype a solution without a problem. In times of COVID-19 it has now become the solution to the problem. We figured this might be a good time to clarify the difference between some remote interpreting acronyms that easily get mixed up: VIT, VRI, OPI, and RSI.
Continuous growth and fragmentation have been the key characteristics of the language services market. Let's see what the data says.
At the moment, we count 75 virtual interpreting technologies (VIT) on the market. Some are meant to be used at conferences, some by end-users traveling abroad, some are only suitable for web conferencing.