A transparent screen that interprets what passengers from abroad are saying will be installed at a ticket office at Seibu Shinjuku Station of the Seibu Shinjuku Line in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. It is aimed at helping foreign tourists, who are starting to visit Japan in greater numbers following the easing of border controls for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seibu Railway Co., the operator of the Seibu Shinjuku Line, will start trials on the screen on July 10.
“With the transparent screen, we can talk to passengers while looking at their expressions,” said a Seibu Railway official. “We aim to become a railway that inbound tourists choose to use.” The railway hopes to officially start using it in the autumn.
The screen, which is 69 centimeters tall and 75 cm wide, was placed on the counter at a ticket office for selling limited express train tickets at Seibu Shinjuku Station during a demonstration to the media on July 5. The screen can interpret 12 languages, including English, Korean, Chinese, Thai and Filipino.
An official of Seibu Railway who acted as a foreign passenger chose Chinese on a tablet computer and spoke in Chinese on one side of the screen. The other side of the screen facing a station attendant simultaneously showed the Japanese translation of what the official said, which was, “How can I go to Kawagoe?” in a speech bubble. Conversely, what the station attendant said in Japanese was translated into Chinese and shown on the screen facing the official. The screen can also show what train attendants say in Japanese for people who are hard of hearing.
Major printing company Toppan Inc. developed the screen. Seibu Railway plans to trial it until the end of September to ascertain how accurate its translations are and how easy it is to use it. The number of foreign tourists has been rapidly recovering since the lifting of COVID-19 border controls, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. In May, the number rebounded to 68.5 percent of the pre-COVID levels.
Fonte: The Asahi Shimbun