The impact of VRI technology on interpretation delivery

The impact of VRI technology on interpretation delivery

Video remote interpreting (VRI) is the method or process that uses gadgets such as videophones, webcams, personal computers or tablets to deliver on-demand interpretation services by harnessing the power of high-speed internet. A human interpreter operating from an offsite location remotely delivers the interpretation over a telecommunication network while the communicating parties operate from the same location. This method of delivering interpretation has transformed the language services industry and VRI has become the preferred form of interpretation on many occasions because of its innumerable advantages and life-altering benefits during critical interpreting scenarios where an interpreter is required at short notice. Because of these benefits, several industries such as healthcare, education, corporate, emergency assistance, education and national governments have patronized VRI.

Though technology swept the field of interpretation long ago with the advent of telephone interpretation, VRI provides the additional advantage of personal touch that simulates an in-person interpretation experience through the visual input. Add to this the advantage of convenience, cost effectiveness, on-demand and quick availability of interpreters, and extremely high accuracy of interpretation, VRI technology becomes a force to reckon with, particularly because of the cost effectiveness that comes as a result of eliminating expenses related to travel and accommodation of the interpreter.

Amongst the several benefits imparted by VRI technology to interpretation delivery, the ones of extreme importance are non-verbal stimulus, accuracy and on-demand availability. Being able to see an interpreter face-to-face via a video screen allows the parties to ascertain that the interpreter is understanding their speech by reading the facial expression of the interpreter. This advantage also results in the next advantage in that the accuracy of interpretation is far superior than any other technique that facilitates remote interpretation. VRI also makes it possible to summon an interpreter for services by crossing the barriers of location and time zone, thus reducing the connection times significantly and confirming the availability of interpreters for critical situations without delay.

VRI technology facilitates seamless delivery of interpretation services at a click of a button in diverse languages and dialects from any part of the world powered by a multitude of modalities including high-definition audio and video conferencing technology. Several companies have invested in robust proprietary technologies with high levels of encryption, high-quality audio and video, and very-high-speed internet connections to gain a significant competitive edge in the industry. This helps them to offer fast, secure and highly responsive services and thereby acquire and retain clientele, while also gaining access to a wide network of accomplished and experienced interpreters globally. The additional advantage of VRI technology is that real-time recordings facilitate feedback for learning and improving of interpretation quality, which also serves as input for machine learning so as make the interpretation better and more accurate in the subsequent iterations. Apart from offering superior client satisfaction levels, VRI helps to develop a better, more skilled and versatile linguist workforce.

Despite the many benefits of VRI technology, there are some possibilities that can impair the expected seamless delivery of interpretation, besides the fact that there could be many instances when an interpreter could be better understood by someone in person. While technology enables quick and instant connection, the over-reliance on internet bandwidth during a time when the high-speed internet connection fails or the camera displays delay in real-time imaging can render confusion and delay during critical scenarios, particularly in legal or healthcare settings when rescheduling is not feasible. Because the interpreter is not physically present in the physical setting where the interpretation is taking place, the interpreter might miss out on some important visual and auditory cues available in the environment. Furthermore, in remote interpretation, it is almost impossible to control the environment of VRI, which may cause distractions to the interpreter as well as those requiring interpretation. A specific drawback of VRI technology manifests when the interpreter has to offer services for the hearing impaired when they use the sign language to communicate. This is because there are several regional variations in sign language that interpreters may not always be trained in or aware of.

In summary, notwithstanding the drawbacks of VRI technology in light of interpretation delivery, the cost and accessibility benefits will result in these services being promoted and used to a significant extent. While choosing VRI over in-person interpretation services, the interpretation setting will play an important role in determining the outcome of the interpretation. While VRI might effectively assist an interpretation scenario involving emergency or on-demand services in a hospital or legal setting, it will be difficult for technology-enabled remote interpretation to replace the need for a human interpreter in a critical and action-oriented setting such as a conference or diplomatic delegation. While VRI is here to stay, it is also evident that the ease of use of this mode of interpretation depends on several factors that may be beyond the control of a traditional human interpretation scenario.