Gizmos & Gadgets: SIGMO – the Voice Operated Instant Translator

Not quite the universal translator of Star Trek fame, SIGMO nevertheless looks like a pretty neat device. Its inventors are currently seeking funding using Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site. They hope to quickly move from the working prototype to commercial product.

What does SIGMO do? It’s a real-time. 25-language voice translator. Select the language you want to translate to. Press a button and speak a phrase in your language. Let SIGMO instantly translate what you have said to the selected language. Reverse the process as well to translate what someone says to you.

For business and vacation travelers this sounds like a dream come true. I know from personal experience having bought a translator for a multi-country business trip to Europe that proved to be frustrating at times and certainly didn’t help me with proper pronunciation of translated words. SIGMO, if it meets its hype, just seems to be a lot better way to go. You connect it to your Android or iPhone using a Bluetooth interface and the mobile SIGMO App. It uses existing voice translation services like the one available from Google. The device is designed to operate in standby mode for 300 hours, and in voice translation mode for 8 without recharge. It also can be used as a handsfree microphone for your mobile phone and includes a mini-jack port for earphones.

The languages available so far include: English (US), English (UK), English (Australia), English (Canada), Spanish (Spain), Spanish (United States), Spanish (Mexico), French (France), French (Canada), Finish, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese (China), Mandarin and Cantonese(Taiwan / Hong Kong), Catalan, Korean, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Polish, Russian, Arabic, Indonesian, Hebrew, Czech, Turkish, African, Malay, Croatian, Thai, Greek, Bulgarian, Turkish, Slovak, Hungarian, Ukranian, and Hindi. As new language vocabularies are created they will automatically update through the mobile phone interface.

So far SIGMO’s Indiegogo campaign has raised more than $66,000 dollars, 464% above their original $15,000 target. The inventors, Marti Karrer and David Barnett are world travelers and are truly its first adopters having experienced the frustration of using translation devices and multi-language dictionaries. Interested in learning more? Watch the video.


SIGMO composite picture

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.


  • Fantastic piece of equipment!!!

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  • Amy B.

    I realize this article is almost 2 years old, but it’s worth noting that while the Indiegogo campaign was successfully funded, Barnett and Karrer never delivered the Sigmo device to backers, and are no longer communicating with anyone. It turned out to be a scam.