You may remember that we covered something during CES, at the start of last year, that turned a lot of heads. It resulted in so many comments from readers both here and on YouTube. It was a small handheld translator called “ili” (the “wearable translator”). It was supposed to make its way to consumer hands last summer. Since then, we didn’t hear anything–until now.
Now, ili is back in the spotlight, as they move forward with their campaign, accepting preorders. What was once feared to be the latest crowdfunded item to vanish (like the lily drone), seems to have never actually gone away. Maybe, they were just working out a few odd things, or found a way to make it even better. Whatever reason they had to step away for a year, seems to have been resolved.
Pre-orders are available via their website, iamili.com (Update/2022: Website is no longer online – Units can be found via Amazon), where they are offering a $60 discount for the first 10,000 units sold. As of right now, it states that over 6000 units have always been reserved, showing the interest is still quite strong.
The ili translators are supposed to be able to help you make your way around a day in a foreign country, by providing accurate translations for simple phrases. They are only one-way, which means you can’t translate someone’s response back to your native tongue, but something like that would eliminate any need to carry around a pocket translation book–which takes far longer to fiddle with than an instant tool such as this.
They now plan to support 5 different models that you can choose from, including English to Spanish, English to Chinese, English to Japanese, as well as Chinese to English, and Chinese to Japanese. They have also promised that additional options will come in the future.
Although it would be the best scenario if it could translate both ways, it does sound like a perfect solution to at least get you where you need to be. Especially, since it doesn’t require any connectivity to work. They promise that it will function as a standalone product, without any need for the internet.
Thankfully, they also say that they plan to allow the option of changing the output language in the future. This will eliminate the need to buy multiple units, which obviously would avoid a major complaint from consumers. That alone makes the product successful, as long as it properly translates and offers a great battery life (which is stated to be a full day’s charge.
You can find the pre-order process here on their website. They are accepting discounted pre-orders through June 30th. No specific shipping date has been shared just yet, but the obvious assumption rests with sometime this summer or early fall, based on the pre-order window. You can find our interview with them from last year, just below, along with their preview video.