During a visit this week to a leading manufacturer of surgical robotic equipment, I was allowed to preview and experience their fascinating product. This company has effectively combined video, optics, robotics, software and computers to create a product beyond belief. You have to experience it to truly appreciate its abilities. It is mind-boggling! Within a few minutes of training, I was able to operate the robot arms and perform intricate functions with relative ease!
What made this million dollar equipment so intuitive to use is credited to the ingenuity of its designers and the continuing drive in technology convergence. Companies worldwide have been marrying software, electronics, mechanics, optics and other technologies to develop high-end solutions in an effort to create value and build barriers of entry. This company’s sophisticated product offered a perfect example of technology convergence.
So imagine you are tasked with the translation and localization of this product into another language. You will need to be an expert in many fields including video, optics, robotics, software, and medical surgical terminology to be able to understand and accurately convey the intended product use in that language— a daunting task anyway you look at it!
Furthermore, advances in internet technologies, development tools, authoring tools, and platforms have expanded the use of different file formats and build environments. Software applications and manuals are no longer based on Microsoft resource files or Word documents. Java, XML, ASP, HTML, and a range of other formats are now standard and integrated into most applications and products. Today, you can find software anywhere from the modern toaster, to heavy machinery.
Translators are now therefore not only expected to understand all these different technologies and file formats but also to accurately translate only what is needed, without modifying tags, links or code. If errors are made, a significant amount of debugging time is needed to fix and build these products.
Compounding all this is the need to master the source and target languages. Translation, today and in the foreseeable future, continues to be an art.
All this makes software localization for such products a complex task. So don’t short-circuit the process or underestimate the effort needed. It takes experienced managers, engineers and translation professionals to properly implement an efficient translation-reuse process and localize your product while keeping the integrity of the advanced technical text intact.
It pays to involve professionals from the start!