The Rise of the Virtual Interpreter Booth

May 18, 2023

Oddmund Braaten

Oddmund Braaten, CEO at Interprefy, a multilingual meeting technology and services provider. Launched in 2015 with the idea of removing the need for interpreters to travel to venues to do their jobs, Interprefy has helped thousands of companies reduce their carbon footprint with remote simultaneous interpretation technology.

In today's globalized world, communication across different languages is more important than ever before. As businesses expand their operations into new markets, there is a growing need for interpreters to bridge language barriers and facilitate communication.

Traditionally, this has been done through physical interpreter booths, where interpreters are stationed at an event or meeting and provide interpretation services in person. However, with rapid advancements in technology, virtual interpreter booths have emerged as a powerful alternative.

Limitations of the Traditional Interpreter Booth

Physical, analogue interpreter booths have been the go-to solution for multilingual communication for decades. These soundproof booths are typically set up at conferences, meetings and events for interpreters to sit and provide interpretation through an interpreting hard console.

One of the most significant drawbacks is their high cost, which includes not only the rental fees for the booth and analogue hardware equipment but also the expenses associated with travel, accommodations and daily allowances for interpreters.

Additionally, physical booths take up considerable space, making it challenging to accommodate them in smaller venues. Moreover, interpreters' physical presence limits availability and language offerings.

High Risk in Times of Uncertainty

In 2022, flight cancellations and delays reached a new high. Even today, global travel and inflation have brought a lot of uncertainty to event organizers. If interpreters are unable to reach the venue in time, the success of events may be at risk. Organizers could ask them to fly in earlier, but that would add even more costs.

What's more, you may have an audience or even speakers joining remotely. Adding a hybrid element to your event can become very challenging if your interpreting technology isn't designed to deal with flexible hybrid requirements and can't integrate with meeting platforms.

The Rise of the Virtual Booth

While physical interpreter booths have served as a crucial tool for multilingual communication, their limitations have paved the way for a more flexible and cost-effective solution: virtual interpreter booths.

Virtual interpreter booths work similarly to physical booths but with the benefit of being entirely digital. Using a computer, a cabled internet connection, a microphone and specialized software, interpreters can provide their services from anywhere in the world or even from a soundproofed booth.

The software used for virtual interpreter booths typically includes a video conferencing platform that allows interpreters to see and hear the event.

The audio and video are transmitted in real time through the software, so that interpreters can follow the event smoothly and work efficiently while their interpretation is also sent in real time to the audience.

Where Interpreter Software Stands Out

The advantages of choosing remote interpreting software over hardware range from lower costs and less of an administrative burden to greater flexibility in the number of languages you may offer to a reduction in carbon emissions. Here are seven specific benefits:

1. Risk mitigation

Because interpreters are not necessarily required to be onsite, there is no risk of an interpreter failing to arrive on time or cancelling at the last minute.

2. Improved efficiency

Because of the ease of implementation, interpretation can even be provided on short notice. This speedy turnaround allows organizations and businesses additional planning and scheduling flexibility.

3. Better tools for interpreters

Providing interpreters with the right tools can help reduce stress and the risk of failure, ultimately helping them achieve excellent performance.

4. Better collaboration tools

The most effective virtual booth software will give interpreters powerful and intuitive tools for working with both their interpreting partners and support technicians. Included in this are specific video and chat capabilities with shortcut messages, clever handover tools, timers and document-sharing options.

5. Better visibility

Sound booths are frequently positioned in less-than-ideal locations due to space restrictions. To respond to non-verbal cues, interpreters depend on having clear sight.

Some virtual booths give interpreters high-quality video streaming of the stage and video broadcasts of their interpretation partners, so non-verbal communication doesn't get missed.

6. Usage analytics

When broadcasting interpretation digitally to a mobile app or a computer, event managers can access streaming analytics to know how many users utilized each language channel.

7. AI-powered interpreter assistant tools

Using cutting-edge interpreting software, interpreters can activate automated captioning and double-check important phrases, numbers and other details.

Bringing Interpreter Software Onsite

The beauty of interpreting software is that it allows for an incredibly diverse array of setups.

Sometimes, not all interpreters can join you at the venue, and using interpretation software allows you to work with interpreters on site and remotely.

Even when all interpreters join you locally, the use of interpreting software can simplify things. When linking numerous conference rooms, like at The World Government Summit, the use of the software eliminates the need for miles of wire and armies of technicians.

The virtual interpreting booth has plenty of advantages and can help conferences and other events reach their full language and scalability potential. Event organizers and interpreters shouldn’t let old myths keep them from achieving it.

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