According to the Asahi Shimbum newspaper report- Omontenashi Guide, a free app that works without internet connection, is currently being tested at shopping centers and airports. It picks up signals embedded in loudspeakers, and converts audios into texts. The app can help people with hearing problems. And it works in English, Spanish, Korean and Japanese. Later this month, it will be tried at train stations in Tokyo, Hamamatsu and Kyoto.
A key challenge for using the technology in high-speed train stations - is the noise caused by passing trains. The trial period will begin at the concourse level, and then move to platforms to determine whether the app can overcome the noise and vibrations.
The app developer, Yamaha, said that it can translate automated recordings and live voice announcements. Currently, it’s only available on Apple devices. But an Android version is in progress.
Japan has recently seen a decrease in tourists. They are trying to change that as they will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Local authorities are tackling the language barriers with 24-hour multilingual phone lines, which will help foreigners with everything from finding a doctor to negotiating a good price on souvenirs.