Inspired by inventor Charles Howerton’s difficulties in communicating with his Spanish-speaking staff, RTT Mobile’s ELSA unit is now helping law enforcement, EMTs, and other first responders communicate clearly, effectively, and efficiently with non-native English speakers.
An acronym for Enabling Language Service Anywhere, ELSA is a handheld device that connects users with live interpretors who can quickly translate, as well as record, 180 different languages and dialects into English. A fairly compact and simple design; the device has just three buttons, built-in microphones, and a speaker. It uses existing wireless networks to connect users with translators in under 30 seconds.
This immediacy in communication is a key benefit of ELSA, particularly in situations involving emergency responders where time is often a crucial factor. Traditionally these departments have relied on bilingual personnel or other translation services, neither of which are always immediately accessible.
The ELSA interpreters, who actually work for Language Line Solutions, are highly skilled linguists, many of whom have specialized training in areas like business, medicine, and government. These specific backgrounds allow the interpretors to assist in much more complex situations that might require understanding of specific concepts and terminology.
Right now the device is used mostly by first responders, but it could potentially be applied to any situation where access to a translator would be useful or even required, as in the case of some government agencies. RTT Mobile is preparing a Kickstarter campaign to help develop the next iteration of the device and make it more readily available to the general public.