Published by: Givens Kachero (638161) | Winnie Booker (652857) | Hussein Jiva (628978) | Lewis Ochieng (652838)
Kenya is a hotbed of culture, attractions and innovation – a reputation the nation has earned for its various exploits, achievements and contributions. And among the key sectors that have contributed to the country’s burgeoning success stories is the tourism sector.
The tourism sector is among the top three contributors to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), thus, needs to be adequately cared for in order to nurture it into an even stronger arm of the country’s economy.
Recently, the Cabinet Secretary of Treasury for Kenya, Henry Rotich, while delivering the country’s budget for the financial year 2017/18, announced, ““The tourism sector has picked up with significant rise in conference activities and foreign tourist arrivals… To further realize the multiple benefits of a robust tourism sector, the government working with key stakeholders in the industry, will continue to promote and develop new areas of tourism including sports, beach and medical tourism.”
Seeing the potential to attract more travellers to the country and subsequently growing the tourism industry, we sought to tackle one of several difficulties affecting tourism in Kenya – language barrier. Stakeholders dotting Kenya’s tourism landscape have cited the inability to properly communicate with one another as a hindrance for the sector. That provided the birthing ground for Elo Translator, a multifaceted offline and online mobile language translator, which seeks to address and consequently minimize the current difficulty experienced in the sector.
So, what does the application have to offer? It focuses on three key elements; message translations, documents (signage) translations and ultimately, sign language with respect. While the former two are pivotal in communication, especially in the tourism sector which involves engagement with people and content from foreign markets, the latter is a value add-on feature, in cognizant of the growing number of physically-challenged tourists. Furthermore, it was a challenge that seemed plausible to address. The global deaf (or hearing challenged) population is approximately 360 million people. And before you begin to ponder, we opted against incorporating audio translation – which is becoming common fixture of translation apps – given that the technology is yet to be perfected.
How exactly does it operate? In a nutshell, it is a convergence of various available technologies. The message translation is real-time, thus facilitates the sending of a text in one language, to be received by the recipient in the translated language of choice. The document translation transforms the camera’s lens into an eye that captures the text and immediately translates it into the desired language – yes, it exists in the market. Lastly, the sign language feature – which will rely on the internet – allows the capturing of sign language to be converted into either a sign language from another geographical region or into text of choice. And as this product is market specific, the default language will be Kiswahili, with the secondary default language being the universal dialect, English.
The goal is to deploy this technological solution to enhance Kenya’s tourism sector as it continues its road from recovery, following security issues and travel advisories that deterred its growth. And given that Elo is a solution with its own identity, it will react to the changes in the Kenyan market, adapting to the new languages and market trends that affect the industry, with a view of consciously assisting in communication for the betterment of the industry and country in general.