Original Article published by WWD.
Noriyuki Matsuda, chief executive officer and founder of Sourcenext Corp., wants to offer consumers products “that inspire joy and move the world.” And one of the latest efforts aligned with this vision is a deal with Travis BV that will distribute the Dutch company’s pocket translator in the U.S. and Canada under the Pocketalk brand name.
Matsuda, whose company, which has a market capitalization of $460 million, offers various technology and software solutions, described Pocketalk as a “portable, AI-powered instant voice translation” device aimed at breaking down language barriers and “empowering users to communicate in full, two-way conversations using 63 different languages.”
Matsuda presented Pocketalk at CES early this year after debuting the device in Japan last fall. He sees applications for “consumer to consumer” and education as well as for business to consumer and for business to business applications. Matsuda told WWD that there are 30 million tourists who visit Japan annually, and they’re mostly from China and South Korea — they don’t speak Japanese. He sees Pocketalk as a facilitator for improved interactions between people there — and soon to be in the U.S. and Canada.
For businesses — especially luxury retailers in the U.S. who cater to Japanese tourists — Matsuda sees Pocketalk creating an improved shopping experience.
“We see a tremendous opportunity to help break down language barriers with technology, and that’s manifested in our work with acquiring the Rosetta Stone Japan entity earlier this year and launching iGotcha, the voicemail translation app we introduced last year,” said Matsuda said in a statement. “Travis’ device is impressive from the moment you pick it up — it fully delivers the promise of instant voice translation that was purely science fiction until now. We released it in Japan to a tremendous response, and now we’re looking forward to putting Pocketalk into consumers’ hands and getting more Americans and Canadians traveling, talking and connecting.”
Sourcenext said the device carries a suggested price of $249, and is available in white and black. It begins shipping this September. “The device works with Wi-Fi, mobile data, or your personal hotspot, and leverages persistent translation services including the ongoing research of the Travis Foundation, Travis Cloud and others,” Sourcenext stated. “It was originally introduced as Travis the Translator in a wildly successful global crowd-funding campaign in January 2017.”
Travis cofounder and ceo Brend Kouwenhoven, said at its core, “our mission is to improve the way people communicate. In Sourcenext, we found a partner with the critical distribution and sales experience that will realize the full potential of our technology, and help us become an integral part of the world as a community.”
Matsuda told WWD that the “business opportunity is huge” as Japan readies for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
For Japanese tourists traveling abroad, Pocketalk also addresses an important cultural issue. “This is a very important product for Japanese people because Japanese people are so shy, they don’t want to speak some languages because they are not proficient enough,” Matsuda explained. “But with this device, they say speak using the translator, and it helps them become proficient.”