In recent years, new technological developments have given way to what is known as Remote Simultaneous Interpreting.
This remote interpreting is done via virtual platforms of which, by my count, there are around five currently operating successfully in the market* and can be divided in two main groups:
- Virtual interpreting booths
- Meeting platforms with simultaneous translation
VIRTUAL INTERPRETING BOOTHS
These platforms do what it says on the tin: provide remote interpretation services for face-to-face or online events.
Thus, participants and delegates either attend the conference the traditional way or via an online meeting platform, while interpreters connect remotely to the interpreting booth from either our home offices or a hub provided by the platform company.
Under this format, participants need to do two things:
- Attend a conference in person or connect to the virtual meeting room where the event is being held (and mute its audio)
- Connect to the interpreters’ audio stream, usually by downloading an app to a separate device, such as a tablet or mobile
MEETING PLATFORMS WITH SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION
These are proper meeting platforms offering all the standard features and capabilities of stablished online meeting platforms, such as screen and ppt presentation sharing, on-camera interventions, group and private chat, floor sharing PLUS virtual interpreting booths and separate language channels for participants to choose to listen to.
Under this format, there is no need for special equipment or setup, as participants connect to a single platform which interface includes both the meeting/event and the interpreters’ audio stream.
- Lower carbon footprint, as less people need to be on site
- Cost saving here but additional costs there: save on traditional booths, travel and accommodation, but need to get specialist equipment, minimum connectivity, platform access, etc.
- Hosting meetings without having to mobilise entire teams or taking staff members away from key tasks for too long
- Face-to-Face interaction; coffee breaks, lunch, and after-work drinks are sometimes as or even more fruitful than the events themselves
- Guarantee of uninterrupted, good quality audio stream as it is impossible to control and adjust everybody’s Internet connection or online behaviour
- Nuances in the interpreters’ renditions as, by not being on site, we are unable to ‘read the room’
So, having first-hands experience working with both types of platforms, I would say that remote interpreting is a lot like online dating: whether it works for you or not depends a lot on what you are looking for, what you want to achieve, and how much you’re willing to invest.
Remotely or not, words always connect worlds.
*For specific names, information, and user experience about each platform, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org