Babelverse, which is building a crowdsourced universal translator, hopes to set up SEA HQ in Singapore
October 23, 2012 by Terence LEE
But unlike in Star Trek, don’t expect to hear a non-English speaker, for instance, babble in Queen’s English all of a sudden. Instead, Babelverse works by matching a remote human translator from anywhere on the globe to a person who needs it, via the Internet (the above video shows how it works).
It’s like having a translator standing right next to you, except that she’s doing her thing over a smartphone or computer.
Now, after getting much attention from tech press like TechCrunch and Fast Company, and winning a handful of startup competitions, the founders of Babelverse, Josef Dunne and Mayel de Borniol, wants to set up a Southeast Asia headquarters in Singapore.
They will be in Singapore from 7th to 16th November to check out the startup scene, get help on setting up an office in Singapore, and raise funding.
While market fragmentation in Asia has often been perceived as an obstacle for startups in Asia, Babelverse could turn it into an advantage.
Just a few kilometers south of Singapore is Indonesia, which predominantly speaks Bahasa Indonesia. Head in the opposite direction, past Malaysia, and you’ll hit Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, each with their own languages.
The diversity is enriching, but it creates communication problems. Expecting people to eventually speak English won’t always work, since everyone’s proficiencies, comfort levels, and upbringings vary. Some prefer to snub English altogether.
Babelverse, which is tackling the corporate events market before targeting consumers, could provide the first step towards eviscerating language barriers.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE