Speak Easy

By: Joel Marino

Sometimes dulce de leche is just dulce de leche.

But other times, it’s cajeta. Or arequipe. Or manjar blanco. Because if there’s one thing we can agree on about Spanish, it’s that there’s way too many regional words to describe one item.

That’s where something like Sigmo—an upcoming portable translator hung around the neck—would come in handy. The gadget’s a tiny, speaker-equipped box suspended from a lanyard. It uses web-based tools like Google Translate to interpret speech, then instantly belts out an audible close translation.

Sigmo is the brainchild of San Francisco techies who raised almost a quarter million dollars through Indiegogo (their original goal was a more humble $15,000). Because the devices are still being built, they’re now only available for preorder through their website. Which is fine by us. We’d definitely wait a while longer to get our hands on this inspired invention.

When released, the gizmo will have 25 default languages, though we’re particularly impressed with the variations of Spanish they’re including. There’ll be settings for Mexican, American and Spaniard dialects—and that’s just to begin with. Sigmo’s creators say there’s a chance more languages will be added in the future, so we hope to see anything from Colombian to Cuban and Argentine variants.

Now, just get used to saying, “Please speak into my neck.”

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.