Internet giant Google launched its new mobile phone, Pixel 2, yesterday. The phone was launched alongside wireless headphones called Google Pixel Buds, which are able to translate conversations in 40 languages in real time, including Icelandic.
During the launch presentation, two demonstrators carried out a conversation in English and Swedish, with the headphones translating what was said with seemingly no lag time. With a price tag of USD 159 (ISK 16,900/EUR 135), this tiny device with the power to revolutionize communication comes relatively cheap.
The role of technology is a hot-button issue in debates about the health of the Icelandic language. Its complex grammar, unique alphabet, and relatively low number of speakers have all been cited as challenges in integrating it into everything from apps to search engines, which, according to many, could lessen its usage in a technologically-dependent world. Google Pixel Buds are a huge leap forward in translation technology and it will be interesting to watch their impact on the Icelandic language.