Stepes, a fast-growing online translation services provider, recently launched on-site and face-to-face interpretation services in major cities around the world. At its core, the California-based company offers human translation services through a mobile app, powered by a network of 100,000 translators in over 100 languages, according to Founder Carl Yao.
On-site interpretation services are not new, of course, however Stepes’ new Book A Translator feature leverages a simple yet significant advantage: smartphones as GPS-enabled devices. Book A Translator takes advantage of modern location based services (LBS) to match available interpreters to clients based on location, and can even allow clients to track how far along their interpreters are an hour before the scheduled on-site interpretation session.
“Traditional processes for requesting on-site interpretation services are tedious and time consuming at best,” Yao said. “The Stepes App simplifies the process so users can easily schedule for in person translation services, all from their mobile devices and on-the-go.”
“Traditional models were labor intensive because traveling on-site requires geo-location info so the most qualified linguists that are located nearest to the service location are used,” Yao said. The Stepes App supports global address search for all major international venues, company offices, hotels, and street addresses. Users can also tap the location on a map for Stepes to automatically supply the address. With mobile GPS, Stepes customers can easily track the translators’ travel location in real time one hour prior to the interpretation session. Naturally, users can also talk to the translator through their smartphones via the app’s call functions.
“It’s almost like booking a ride or hotel,” Yao said. “The user simply specifies a location (using GPS Maps) and date/time.” He added that to further simplify the process, the Stepes App also comes with a list of predefined interpretation scenarios such as business meeting interpretation, factory or supplier visit, airport pickup and drop off, or personal tour. For business interpretation, customers can also specify a dress code so the translator present the most appropriate appearance.
“We really hope this new mobile on-site interpretation service will push Stepes to the foreground of modern interpretation services around the world,” Yao noted, adding: “Stepes bills itself as the Uber of translation services and Book a Translator proves just that.”
Online Translation Ecosystem
Live, in-person interpretation is only the most recent step Yao and his team have taken in their bid to expand their mobile human translation services. And it would not be possible without their online shared translation model where customers and translators alike can go through the entire translation pipeline on their smartphones.
Switching from the Uber analogy to an Amazon one, Yao said: “This is an online translation ecosystem. In fact, we’d like to think Stepes is the Amazon of translation services.”
“Stepes often completes small projects in a matter of minutes. We provide one hour and sub one hour translation services on-demand.”
“One of the most important selling points of Stepes is that we provide the fastest translation services on earth, period,” Yao beamed. “Traditional LSPs are more like brick and mortar companies. Stepes is an online translation service that automates many of the human touch points associated with the conventional localization process. As a result, Stepes is able to translate faster and at lower cost.”
Since both parties are using intuitive mobile interfaces to conduct the entire translation process, Stepes’ translators can be instantly notified of translation requests. They can also immediately begin translating — they do not even have to be on their desktop computer, they can do all of it from their mobile phones.
“Stepes often completes small projects in a matter of minutes,” Yao said, “We provide one hour and sub one hour translation services on-demand.”
Shared Translation Service Powered by 3.6 Billion People
So Stepes can deliver high quality translations with short TAT and offer mobile client-interpreter matching in real time. These seem like advantages any traditional LSP would be proud to claim.
Likewise, most LSPs, however, have not ventured onto a cornerstone mobile translation platform. So what is the end-game here for Stepes?
The company is staunchly standing by its online shared translation model strenghtened and boosted by mobile. In fact, Stepes aims to increase its 100,000 translator pool to, potentially, 3.6 billion—all the multilingual people on the planet. This is the ambitious premise of what Yao called the “Big Translation” trend.
“Big Translation” is a grandiose vision for the future of translation where technologies like Stepes allows anyone in the world who speaks two or more languages to translate for others over their smartphones.
Yao likens “Big Translation” to Big Data: “Big Data has transformed the way we process information. Now is the time for Big Translation to transform the way we communicate.”
From their mobile online translation ecosystem to their Book A Translator feature, Stepes is moving towards what they believe is the coming “Big Translation” disruption that needs to happen to the industry. Yao and his team think the change is coming, and Stepes is positioning itself to spearhead it.
At the very least, the company is confident enough in its mobile human translation services to actively expand to interpretation. “The online translation market is becoming quite competitive and crowded,” Yao said, “However, we hope the mobile app and the interpretation services will push Stepes to the forefront of this competition.”