March 20, 2023

Connecting the World: Pocketalk Celebrates 5 Years and Half a Billion Translations

Pocketalk’s journey over the past 5 years has been a remarkable one, marked by a dedication to breaking communication barriers that once stood in the way of meaningful human connections. In a world where our differences often separate us, Pocketalk has remained steadfast in its mission to connect people from all corners of the globe. And what a journey it has been! Over half a billion translations later, Pocketalk has enabled individuals to communicate as if they shared the same language. Let us look back with pride and anticipation for the future, as we celebrate this remarkable milestone, and remain steadfast in our pursuit of a more united, connected world.


2018: Introducing Pocketalk to the World

In May of 2018, Sourcenext Corporation began distributing Pocketalk in Japan and would eventually expand to the United States and Canada. Sourcenext CEO Noriyuki Matsuda had ambitious plans for the new product, which at the time could only translate around 60 languages in 100 countries. Matsuda, a visionary and entrepreneurial icon in Japan, believed in the potential of Pocketalk, envisioning global distribution and solutions for both businesses and consumers. Others began to recognize the need for instantaneous, live translation and understood Matsuda’s vision. In its first year, Pocketalk received the 2018 Nikkei Superior Products and Services Award and the “Innovation Award” in the Mobile Computing Category at the Showstoppers at IFA 2018.


2019: Gaining Traction

Pocketalk carried this momentum into its second year, winning the “TWICE Picks Award” at CES 2019. The device was now in its second iteration, capable of translating 74 languages in 109 countries. It was clear that Pocketalk was an innovative consumer travel tool. The next step would prove Pocketalk to be a viable business solution and mark the beginning of a new customer base. In December of 2019, All Nippon Airways (ANA) announced that they would be rolling out Pocketalk devices in 50 airports across Japan to allow ANA’s staff to communicate more effectively with travelers. With the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, there was an opportunity for Pocketalk to cement its image on a global stage.


2020: Acting on a Dime

Surely, nothing could stop Pocketalk’s momentum at this point. Well, not quite. COVID-19 completely disrupted the global economy and shuttered international travel. This presented an issue as Pocketalk was primarily positioned and used as a consumer travel tool. However, the company was more concerned with the state of the world than their business plan. When first responders aboard the Diamond Princess cruise line had to quarantine in Yokohama at the start of the pandemic, Pocketalk took action. They donated devices to improve communication between first responders and passengers, thereby reducing human interpreter exposure to COVID-19. This trying moment inspired Pocketalk to pivot its focus from world travelers to first responders, healthcare workers and education administration in multilingual communities, places where clear and easy communication was needed most. In September of 2020, Pocketalk donated over 100 devices to educators with multilingual language learner (MLL) students to assist them with their remote education. By the end of the year, Pocketalk was recognized by Newsweek for its contributions during the height of the pandemic, in total donating over 850 devices to medical facilities, first responders and COVID-19 testing sites.


2021: Commitment to Service

Early in 2021, Pocketalk announced new updates and features for its Pocketalk S device, and unveiled the slightly larger Pocketalk Plus. Both devices were now equipped with a camera for image translation and capable of translating 82 languages in more than 130 countries. Pocketalk Plus was created specifically for the company’s ongoing support for first responders and essential workers during the pandemic, featuring a longer battery life and a screen large enough to be seen from 6 feet away.

At this time, the world was also experiencing the effects of a global supply chain crisis. Again, Pocketalk found a way that their device could support this issue. International logistics requires constant communication and a large workforce across countries and languages. In 2021, many companies began using Pocketalk to help streamline communication and recruit diverse talent to mitigate the logistics crisis and avoid future issues.


2022: A New Normal

2022 was a transformative year for Pocketalk, starting with their announcement to transition from a hardware-centric business to a global solution. Pocketalk also officially announced it would be spinning off from Sourcenext Corporation to be its own, freestanding company in order to improve the speed of business, govern separately, and operate at a global standard. After seeing remarkable success supporting healthcare workers during the pandemic, Pocketalk continued to focus on the medical sector, with facilities across the US reaching out to address their translation and HIPAA compliance needs.

Soon, another global crisis would strike, as Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022. Pocketalk did not hesitate to donate over 1,000 devices to Ukrainian refugees to help them receive the appropriate care, resources and support they needed.

International travel made a strong rebound by the summer of 2022, and Pocketalk was ready with a new app that would allow the casual traveler to get best-in-class translation at a fraction of the price of a Pocketalk device. The Pocketalk App, released in the fall of 2022, serves as the company’s new consumer translation solution, while the handheld devices are being used across healthcare, education, logistics and now government. In 2022, Pocketalk sold a fleet of devices to North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District in Oregon and the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles, marking the devices’ first use by US government agencies.


2023 and Beyond: Leaning Into Our Strengths

Education has become a key industry for Pocketalk. Over the last three years, Pocketalk’s use in education has grown by over 400%. Today, Pocketalk devices are used in over 100 school districts in the US, and 60% of the schools using Pocketalk have become repeat customers. While the company is still committed to providing the best translation solution for travelers, in 2023 Pocketalk will continue to lean into business and organizational translation. Pocketalk representatives are attending conferences and trade shows, and speaking with their customers to find out how they can best support the healthcare, education and logistics industries as well as government agencies. On top of that, Pocketalk’s business solutions are expanding, and the company is poised to make official announcements regarding new offerings later this year.

As the last five years have shown us, nothing is certain and the world is constantly evolving. Pocketalk is ready to meet the ever-increasing demand for translation wherever it’s needed, and develop new and unique ways to help people communicate. As always, we are committed to breaking down language barriers across the world to create deeper, more meaningful connections. Here’s to the next five years – we’ll see you in 2028!