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Through the eyes of our intern: Translation and Technology

Exciting times ahead for the translation industry

Anna Pyregov | 04th July 2016

Anna Pyregov joined our marketing team for a one-week internship 

Over the past few decades, technology has gone from being useful to inevitable, and from inevitable to imperative. Correspondence is taken care of over email, instant communication is made possible by text messaging and apps such as Messenger or WhatsApp, headlines flash up on our phones just as news is breaking and most tasks can now be taken care of with the click of a button. What’s more, virtual reality promises to soon be part of our actual reality. The world is rapidly transitioning from paper to screens, from the generic to the customised, and the result is convenience, immediacy and a sense of proximity. We have become dependent on technology, and although it limits our freedom to an extent – a text or email left unanswered for more than a few hours or a turned-off phone may go from causing annoyance to anxiety – it does generally make life easier.

Over the course of my first day of my marketing internship at Conversis, I was taken aback by how important and integral technology is to the company’s work. Dr Mark Hooper acted as my supervisor, and after introducing me to the software Conversis uses to manage quotes and process translations, he showed me two of the company’s newest projects, both of which merge translation, marketing and Augmented Reality. With one, an app called Layar available on iPads and iPhones, makes it possible to access translated versions of brochures in English simply by scanning a barcode. This is not only economical and incredibly eco-friendly, but also handy and engaging.

Technological innovation has been experiencing exponential growth – the newest versions and the latest gadgets are widely accepted as the most advanced, and even if a technology is still in its first stages of development, its novelty is exciting. Adapting to these changes is proving to be incredibly important for companies looking to keep up, and innovation in both technology and approach shows dynamism and invites confidence. A great deal of the technology used for marketing aims to better understand the customer and to make the product seem more accessible, and, to an extent, tailored to their needs. For instance, one of the biggest CROs, Quintiles, is in the process of developing Virtual Reality software in order “to help patients going through a recruitment process, guiding them through things like informed consent and demonstrating what will be involved”, Conversis is looking to become better acquainted with such software and also see how it can be used in a translation and marketing context.

On a global level, translation is one the main ways to make a product more accessible. Communicating with the customer in their own language and with special attention to cultural subtleties is part of the company’s mission statement, and this is now being further facilitated by Augmented Reality. With the help iPads, iPhones or Augmented Reality glasses, English text on a poster or screen for promotional events and conferences can be replaced by translated versions, making information immediately available and eliminating the need for interpreters and translated handouts. I had the chance to get involved with this, and spent a good part of yesterday editing French, German and Spanish text onto a 360 image of an exhibition stand and then converting it all to video format that I then uploaded to YouTube. The result was a thirty-second video showcasing Conversis Medical in four languages.

Conversis, like the vast majority of workplaces, relies on a primary level of technology – with its software, email- and computer-based filing system and design programmes – but is also gathering momentum and shifting towards a more elevated level of technology in accordance with the modern appetite for progress, personalisation and instantaneity. Adaptation is at the heart of translation, and it seems very fitting that the art of adaptation should now be striving to adapt.

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