Introduction to Virtual Interpreting Technology (VIT)

Virtual Interpreting Technology

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.

Why we designed the VIT database

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.

LSPs

Conference organizers and event planners

Enterprise language service buyers

Technology companies

World travelers

Investors

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.

Interpreting technology overview tool

Detailed view of all functionalities and features of the top interpreting systems on the market today. Never before has all this information been in one easy-to-compare format.

Interpreting technology compare tool

Easily compare features, connectors, plugins, and capabilities of top interpreting systems. Side-by-side comparison makes sure that you are getting an apples-to-apples view of each technology. 

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].

Rebranding remote interpreting

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.

The whole idea of remote interpreting is that it increases accessibility to interpreting, therefore, remote is not a fitting label.

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.

Opportunity > Threat

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.

Cost effective

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.

Feature explanation

Use-case supported

Refers to the scenario for which the VIT is best suited as well as in which situations it can work well

End point

How the end user listens to the interpretation provided

Interpreter provided by

If the VIT supplies interpreters with the technology — what is the source of the interpreter?

  • Internal database is the technology company’s own database of interpreters with which it has previously worked and the interpreters are trained on how to use the platform.
  • “Marketplace” indicates that the technology is a marketplace itself.
  • LSP Partners — Often technology companies partner with LSPs to provide interpreters. These interpreters are most often trained on the software as well.

Input formats

Indicates the origin of where the software receives audio 

Security

Refers to the security precautions that are in place to ensure the audio (if recorded and stored online) is safe and cannot be hacked:

  • Channel encryption (128 bit) — a data/file encryption technique that uses 128 bit key to encrypt and decrypt files or data
  • Channel encryption (256 bit) — stronger than a 128 bit, it uses 256 bit key to encrypt and decrypt files or data
  • Interpreters sign an NDA — The profession of interpreting is held to a professional code of ethics. One of these is confidentiality. To give you an example, the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) states in Article 2 (b) “Members shall refrain from deriving any personal gain whatsoever from confidential information they may have acquired in the exercise of their duties as conference interpreters.” All interpreters are essentially NDA’d. However, with some interpreting technology companies, as an extra precaution, interpreters are obliged to sign an NDA if they are using their software.

Features for conference organizers

Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to conference organizers

Features for individual clients

Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to individual clients

Features for LSPs

Extra features of VIT that are specifically helpful/relevant to LSPs

Interpreter management systems

Some VITs offer interpreter management features where you can schedule interpreters, find out the location and subject matter specialties of the interpreters.

Integrations

With which software the VIT integrates 

Interpreter access

How interpreters use the software

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