ViA's universal translator device will look just like the company's wearable computer, ViA II. The computer is about the size of two decks of cards. It is divided into two halves, which are held together by a flexible joint. The 1.38 pound (0.63 kg) ViA II is a fully functional PC that can either be strapped to the user's belt or stowed in a jacket pocket. With dimensions of 9.75 inches (24.77 cm) long, 3.13 inches (7.95 cm) wide and 1.25 inches (3.18 cm) thick, the device packs a lot of power into a small package.
The universal translator will be equipped with a 600 megahertz microprocessor and will run on Windows 2000 operating system. ViA II is compatible with a keyboard or voice recognition software. It's this voice interface that has allowed ViA to convert the wearable PC into a wearable translating device. Here's a look at the parts of the wearable device:
- Microphone - either handheld or a headset
- Speaker - built-in to the front of the device
- Hard disk drive - Will likely be a 2.5-inch (6.36 cm) IBM hard drive. Storage size is not yet finalized, but the current ViA II wearable comes with a 6.2 gigabyte hard drive.
- Power controls - located on the top right side of the device
- Battery connector - runs to a battery pack containing a lithium-ion, rechargeable battery
- PC card slot access - two expansion sockets for two Type II PC cards or one Type III PC card
- Universal Serial Bus (USB) port - allows peripheral devices to be plugged in to the ViA device
- AC/DC jack - can be plugged in at home or in the car
- Integrated input/output jack - used for plugging in digital display
- Heat sink - A magnesium alloy runs through the computer to dissipate heat from the system's processor.
ViA has yet to announce the name for the device, but it has said that the automatic translator will be available in the fall of 2001 with a price of between $5,000 and $10,000. So, just how does this wearable device recognize voices, understand what is being said and then translate it into a foreign language?