March 18, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

CelloTrip’s technology promises to enhance the experience of travellers who want to communicate in another language.Most of us have been there before – at a business conference or when travelling. We meet a great person, but run into a language barrier. The person looks really interesting, but we can share no more than a simple “Hello,” “Shalom,” or “Bonjour” before parting ways.

Israel’s CelloTrip plans to change that and open the world to multilingual “street talk” communication.

Using technology already stored in most cellular phones, CelloTrip lets people send a one-line text message, and seconds later get a return message with translation and a phonetic pronunciation.

Already working in a number of languages such as English, Spanish, French, Russian, Hebrew and Arabic, CelloTrip is aiming to do something different than most other translation software companies.

Its mission is to focus on actual spoken “street” language, used by everyday people anywhere in the world. Accessed through a cell phone, the service is activated by inserting a simple three or four letter code before the SMS message is sent to CelloTrip’s messaging center.

Active in Israel and in countries where Israeli cell phones work, CelloTrip will likely be on the tip of everyone’s tongues in the near future. The company has ambitious plans to strike deals with cell phone operators around the world and the next step will be translated voice messages, they say.

But the real “killer application” that CelloTrip will provide, says CEO Itzhak Ron confidently, is an application for online web-based text messaging – like the types of messages we send through MSN, ICQ or through Facebook and MySpace.

Ron explains to ISRAEL21c: “CelloTrip enables people all over the world to connect with each other in whatever language they talk. This new technology translates single messages – and we are doing it in such a manner that the performance of the translation is better than other technology out there.”

Founded in 2006 and based in Tel Aviv, CelloTrip’s technology will never be able to replace the human translator, says Ron, but it will enhance the everyday experience for business people and seasoned travellers who want to do simple things such as order a taxi or food in another language.

Offered at a very low price to cellular operators, the CelloTrip translating service also allows phone companies to deliver targeted ads to users based on keywords. The platform can make suggestions as to where to dine, buy souvenirs or go to the disco.

Today CelloTrip is building up its database of languages and is looking for investment to go to the next level, including voice to voice translation.

The ultimate plan is for CelloTrip to become a part of the world’s communication toolbox and Ron expects that CelloTrip – like so many other Israeli companies – will be acquired by a multinational high-tech company looking for a strategic edge.

“In about two or three years’ time,” he says optimistically.


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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director