ili – is it worth investing in...

ili – is it worth investing in a product that doesn’t exist?

In recent times, a plethora of startups have been successful across the world. What are they? How do they work? Are they fair? Why are they so popular and profitable? In this blog, we take a closer look at this phenomenon. I’ve investigated examples of electronic translators and must admit to being inspired by this year’s hype about Logbar’s ili and Waverly Labs’ The Pilot that were hailed as science fiction coming to life.

Startup and crowdfunding – what are they?

At the core of every startup lies a fantastic idea – a person or group of people behind an idea try to make their way from rags to riches without any venture capital. All they have is zealous optimism.

In case of services, a computer program or an application, this sounds quite plausible. You don’t need a factory, an assembly line, physical workers – sometimes all you need is you.

Nevertheless, to create a touchable product, the old way of thinking is needed to make the idea profitable. Methods of raising funds vary from credits, through business angels to crowdfunding, with the latter reaching a whole new level in the Internet era. A huge amount of money can be raised from indiscriminate people across the world – you just need to convince them that what you’re going to do is one of most innovative ideas of all time. However, it’s not so easy to be paid for a non-existent product – it takes time and effort … but it can be done.

Even though potential customers risk a lot, they still buy things that are haven’t even been produced. Sometimes, the product’s life ends with a nice image and a video promoting its virtues – with people who have already paid for left without the item and without the money they original paid.

SIGMO – more than 3,000 people deceived

One of the most famous cases is an attempt to produce the SIGMO translator. An extremely colorful and well-prepared campaign duped 3,371 people into sponsoring a product that has never come into being. The SIGMO team raised almost $250,000 from trusting customers via the popular crowdfunding portal Indiegogo, while assuming that production would only cost $15,000.

The company promised to launch its device in 2014 … but it never happened. At the beginning, the premiere was postponed, and then postponed again. It’s been almost three years now, and the people who “bought” the translator have no choice but to leave negative feedback on the crowdfunding page. Those people who invested from $1 to $4,100 now want to get their money back – but SIGMO isn’t showing any signs of life.

The famous “Babel Fish” – an earpiece translator

Another product in our well-known category of translators that continues to inspire people’s imagination is The Pilot. The famous “Babel Fish” looks like a gadget out of science fiction due to its shape and use. Its premiere, however, has already been rescheduled three times! It should have been produced in September 2016, but was postponed until May 2017. While in March 2017, it was announced that The Pilot won’t be ready until autumn 2017. Is this the final due date? We really can’t be sure.

Waverly Labs, the company responsible for the idea, is a startup funded by the generosity of its sponsors. The project raised the incredible amount of $4,424,256, with almost 20,000 people wanting to buy The Pilot for $199 per item. By the end of the summer holidays, we will know whether Waverly Labs will have kept its promise and sent its magical translator to customers.

We’ll also know whether the device works as described in its advertising. Andrew Ochoa, the company’s CEO, interviewed by Forbes, says: “This thing isn’t the Babel Fish, it is only going to work in certain conditions”. What are these “certain conditions”? He doesn’t explain.

I tried to contact Waverly Labs about The Pilot and I even visited their office in Brooklyn. I got no response and found nobody there – the address given as Waverly Labs’ headquarters is just a space with offices for rent.

ili – a translator that doesn’t exist

In 2015, a company named Logbar started a campaign to produce a translation device. Their potential product called ili was about to revolutionize the world according to Logbar’s promo videos. In January 2016, during the CES tradeshow in Las Vegas, Logbar announced it would launch its product during summer. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about it at all.

I still can’t verify whether Logbar is looking for sponsors or customers. If you have any news – please let me know. My email is But what I know for sure is that Logbar gathers data from people who want to buy the translator through their website … data such as your name or address that can be used against you. Better be safe than sorry.

Ring – smart, solution that didn’t meet the expectations

Logbar’s reputation is even more doubtful after a similar scheme in 2013 when they raised over $880,000 from 5,161 people for “Ring” through crowdfunding portal Kickstarter to promote a product that didn’t exist. Ring also got an innovation award at CES and a number of customers actually received the end product. The reviews hold no illusions. Ring wasn’t what was expected.

I`m not saying that every startup is doomed to fail because it is run by swindlers. Sometimes it’s a great way to make dreams come true. However, the examples clearly show that good marketing can easily mislead thousands of people looking for an innovative solution.

The world produces hundreds of innovative products everyday designed to serve human beings and improve their lives. Some never come to fruition, while some become indispensable. A lot of them are simply a swindle. So it’s worth analyzing the market and the producer before you invest in something that will either work differently to what you expect or will never even be produced!

All in all, if you’re looking for an electronic translator out of a science fiction movie, you should check the existing offer before you invest in the kinds of products mentioned in this blog. Perhaps some of them will be suitable for and satisfy your needs? My advice is to keep an eye on the market, read reviews and check the top 10 lists before parting with your money.

I hope that my articles will help you make the best choice!

Jimmy J. Draper
Other articles
How to buy an electronic translator?

How to buy an electronic translator?

Have you ever travelled abroad? Have you ever tried to communicate in a language you can’t actually say a single word? Electronic translators are a real help in such situations. Having a translator, you don’t need to worry about heavy dictionaries or phrasebooks, and you don’t have to struggle with yourself to find the word you lack on the tip of your tongue. All you have to do is to say or type the word into a translator, and after a couple of seconds you will have it translated into the language you need. The market is brimming with various electronic translators. Do you know what to look at in order to choose the best one? Here are a few tips:


First of all, just check the language used in the country you’re going to. The first feature you should look for when buying a translator is the languages it translates. You don’t need an English to French translator when going to Russia, right? If you travel a lot, the best option is to buy a multilingual electronic translator. Is the vocabulary limited in multilingual versions? It depends. Usually, it’s not.


Second, answer the question about whether you want your electronic translator to recognize speech. Cutting-edge technology allows you to speak to the device, not just type. Sounds awesome? Still, this is the reality. Say “hello”, you’ll get “ciao” in Italian in less than 2 seconds! Remember, speech recognition technology is quite new. It still requires connection to the Internet. If not, the accuracy goes down.


Imagine you’re in hospital in Laos. How could you understand what’s wrong if your translator does not have medical words? Therefore, the range of vocabulary is also a very important feature of an electronic translator. The variety of words you can find guarantees also the accuracy of translation.


You don’t want to offend anybody with an inaccurate translation. That’s why you have to choose a device with an as accurate machine translation engine as possible. The new trend in machine translation is statistical translation. This means that the translator just looks up databases in order to find the most accurate translation. The larger the database, the more accurate the translation can be. Remember, the largest language databases still need to be looked up online, thus the translator needs the Internet.


Perhaps you are learning a language and you think you don’t need a translator? You’re wrong. Electronic translators are often equipped with many applications to facilitate learning new languages. Such apps speak to you, test your grammar, and check your knowledge of vocabulary. You can forget boring books, just take a translator on the bus or train, and learn even more efficiently.
To sum up, electronic translators are for anyone who even has the slightest contact with foreign languages. You are sure to find the one which suits your needs best. This ranking will help you do it.


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