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Friday, 5th August 2016
In Japan Travel News,

New app translates train announcements from Japanese

Travelling by train is one of the classic experiences to have in Japan for foreign tourists, but it can be confusing, especially for those who don’t speak the language.

Now, a solution is under development in the form of a free app to be called the Omotenashi Guide, reports the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

While the main purpose of the app is to help tourists, local Japanese people who are hard of hearing will also be able to put it to good use.

The signal embedded in loud speakers will be able to be transformed into text for these passengers, as well as English, Spanish and Korean for visitors.

Among the benefits of the app, which will translate the announcements that come over the loud speakers at train stations, is the fact it will function offline, so no internet connection will be required.

Trials are due to be carried out at bullet train stations in Tokyo, Hamamatsu and Kyoto later this month, as well as at selected shopping centres and airports.

One of the challenges that needs to be overcome by the developers is the amount of background noise that is inherently present in the locations where it will operate.

For example, the high-speed bullet trains, whose arrival the app is likely to translate, can be particularly loud.

After trialling it at the concourse level, tests will move to the platforms to see if the noise and vibrations can be overcome.

Yamaha, which is developing the app, says both automated recording and live voice announcements can be interpreted by it.

At present, only those with an Apple device can download the app, but an Android version of the Omotenashi Guide is set to follow.

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