Learn A New Language With The Babel Fish

The Babel fish from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the strangest things in the universe. After inserting a Babel fish into your ear, it feeds off brain wave energy and excretes a matrix from the conscious frequencies into the speech areas of the brain. It’s invaluable as a universal translator, but until Earth is targeted for demolition we’ll have to make do with [Becky] from Adafruit’s Babel fish language toy.

[Becky]’s Babel fish is still able to feed off the energy given off by language, but in this case the energy comes from a set of RFID cards on which Chinese characters are written. After waving these RFID flash cards in front of the Babel fish, a wave shield connected to the Arduino plays a recording of how the logogram on the flash card should sound when pronounced.

While it’s not a biologically engineered fish that simultaneously proves and disproves the existence of god, every human endeavor – learning a language included – needs more [Douglas Adams] references. You can check out [Becky]’s Babel fish demo video after the break.

8 thoughts on “Learn A New Language With The Babel Fish

  1. So what’s the final cost?

    100 RFID cards cost $50.
    Chinese have thousands of characters ;-)
    Even a basic Chinese vocabulary is about 500 characters.

    $35.00 for the music and sound pack.
    $22.00 for the wave shield kit.
    $40.00 for the NFC/RFC shield.
    $30.00 for the cheapest Arduino uno board.
    All with the usual pay-extra shipping. Does this kinda project really need to be so expensive?

    100 magstripe cards cost $17. QR-code printed paper cards even less.
    An old PC (or a phone, chumby, or whatever linux device) with webcam attached running ZBar would be a better alternative. We can figure out the cardboard box fish thing.

    1. Or just use Quizlet or any of other flashcard service that are also web-based and you can use them anywhere you can carry your phone and the sets are easy to update (something you need to do on a daily basis unless you are not really learning). Everything the expensive box doesn’t offer.

      It’s a fun concept, but it’s an art object and not a practical learning device.

  2. more makebelieve eh?

    this is just an advertisment for adafruit. who BTW is trying to force us to sign up for facebook, typical.

    not an ad? lol it says so in the article!

    “we’ll have to make do with [Becky] from Adafruit’s”…

  3. The Pimsleur method is another way to learn languages.Some advantages are 100 per cent audio based,learning common phrases and words,no repetitive memorization,based on 50 years of use and no need to study grammar.There are many other benefits.

  4. “Most of the time spent wrestling with technologies that don’t quite work yet is just not worth it for end users, however much fun it is for nerds.”– Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

    “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”– Douglas Adams

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