Technology and conference calls テクノロジーと電話会議

Technology is an essential part of our lives. A good example is wide-spread use of smartphones. We do so many things by just using smartphones these days. According to some data, apparently about 60% of primary school students in Japan have them even.  Robots and AI have helped our daily lives and this trend is expected to keep accelerating.


Despite of such development, I feel there’s one thing that is not catching up with the trend. That’s a telephone/video conference system. In modern times, again thanks to the development of technology, you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have a laptop. This means more and more people tend to hold more telephone/video conferences than the past.

Most of my company’s clients are non-Japanese and we do have telephone conference all the time. Attendants can be anywhere in the world really. In almost every single call, there’s some connection problems and sound is terrible, which is a big problem for interpreters. This technology doesn’t seem to have evolved at all since when I was a student in England more than 10 years ago. I used to skype with my family then. Skype’s sound quality doesn’t seem to have improved much since then. When sound quality of conference calls is too bad, people in my company switch to Facetime or other similar services. But they are more or less the same.

Often it’s hard to understand what a speaker on the other side is saying because of bad sound quality. It’s impossible to simultaneously interpret in this situation. If time allows in this kind of situation, attendants ask me to switch to consecutive interpreting. But in most cases, they don’t have the time. And some speakers talk like a bullet train, and what interpreters can do is just to give a digest of what’s been said.

I wonder if any other interpreters have felt like me when it comes to telephone conferences. Or have they got some solution for this? My husband always says there should be a way to improve sound by adding software to the conference system. Is there any company that has done something like that before?! I doubt it really…I really hope one day technology development will cover this area.


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