How to leverage the power of the latest technologies to make your multilingual product manuals more effective
Finding the right support for technical translation is essential for ensuring that your audience understands how to use or operate your products or machines. Technical manuals, user catalogues and professional training guides have always been the “genre” of choice for manufacturers and have always been translated by specialized experts with the help of glossaries and translation memories. But new trends are showing us that multilingual technical content doesn’t have to just be motionless on a paper page, as new visual formats such as 3D, interactive video and digital twin technology are emerging, to offer users a state-of-the-art beneficial experience.
Manufacturers and engineers or any company producing industrial machines, whether in the aviation sector or automated production, to name just a couple, are also generally producers of technical texts, such as user manuals, catalogues, product specification sheets and guides that include specialized terminology, or even deal with the practical application of scientific and technological information. With technology and science increasingly dominating our lives, and companies expanding their activity to other countries, it is no surprise that the translation of these texts, or technical translation, is something businesses deal with more and more in order to reach new markets and make their texts and content understandable to all users all around the world.
Technical translation involves the work of highly specialized translators that not only have a linguistic command of their native language and of foreign languages, but are also experts in the subject matter and have experience in the type of text and topic they translate. This means that if we need to translate an operating manual for a medical device, our go-to translator will be someone who is an expert in that field, matches our required language combination and has mastered translating that type of text. It will be someone who is familiar with translation memories, terminology databases and glossaries, in order to ensure accuracy and consistency in the target text.
While technical texts and catalogues are still great resources for users when it comes to operating machines or providing precise instructions, in some cases they might not be the most efficient for that purpose. Today’s need for immediacy and the typical features of machinery or devices may require a more visual experience. This could take the form of more interactive catalogues, as images invariably explain better than words, or the use of gamification that enables businesses to engage more fully with users, but that’s not all. In terms of video and multimedia, Olivia Slade-Silovic asserts “When comparing text and video, there really is no competition in sight. In terms of customer engagement, the chances of capturing your viewer’s attention is much higher when video is used, as opposed to plain text […]” According to IdeaRocket, the average user watches about 206 videos per month, and 59% of senior executives claim that, if both text and video about a specific topic are available, they’re more likely to choose video.
And there are even more statistics that reveal why multimedia content is better than traditional text. According to numbers, consumers prefer video even more than marketers!
Take a look at some additional video vs. text statistics:
- Users spend 88% more time on a website that contains a video.
- Short videos (under 2 minutes) get the most engagement.
- Video content generates 1200% more shares than images and text combined.
This data shows that the digital community is rapidly growing, with no signs of slowing down. Some research even suggests that video will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. Video content is memorable, engaging and encourages users to take action. Moreover, viewers retain 95% of a message when watched in a video compared to 10% when read in text.
With videos dominating today more than ever, another trend is taking shape too. Digital formats and audio-visual solutions are taking over as paper can no longer satisfy the demands of modern companies and users: these include the need to switch to an easily shareable format that is environmentally friendly and can be immediately accessible when needed (think about the inconvenience of having tons of manuals). Videos and more modern formats are ideal as they are more efficient, offer a better and immediate understanding, higher content retention, shorten the learning curves of learner-employees (think about company training or e-learning), and this applies whoever your audience is.
Examples of material in Engineering/Innovation departments that could have a much greater impact if presented using other solutions, such as 3D, Virtual and Augmented Reality etc., that become more immersive, more attractive due to appealing visuals, easier to understand and learn, and are interactive, meaning the message/content is easier to grasp and retain!
Even if you are already into video content or using simple animation, you might still not be using new formats such as 3D, digital twin, prototyping or modelling, which enhance the visual experience and allow viewers to save time and improve visibility. While you might be familiar with prototyping (the iterative process in which a design is improved by quickly manufacturing physical prototypes and making small changes at each step), modelling (mathematical representation of any surface of an object in three dimensions by using a specific software) or 3D (technologies that can provide a real-life three-dimensional visual appearance), you still might not have heard of digital twin technology, defined by Fed Tech as “a digital or virtual model of a real-world object that replicates its performance, allowing the creator of the digital twin to determine where the asset — a jet engine, a turbine, a vehicle, etc. — performs well and where it performs poorly.”
IBM and Maggie Mae Armstrong explain digital twin with a very practical example: “An engineer’s job is to design and test products – whether cars, jet engines, tunnels or household items – with their complete life-cycle in view. In other words, they need to ensure that the product they are designing is fit for purpose, can cope with wear and tear, and will respond well to the environment in which it will be used. An engineer testing a car braking system, for example, would run a computer simulation to understand how the system would perform in various real world scenarios. This method has the advantage of being a lot quicker and cheaper than building multiple physical cars to test. But there are still some shortcomings. First, computer simulations like the one described above are limited to current real world events and environments. They can’t predict how the car will react to future scenarios and changing circumstances. Second, modern braking systems are more than mechanics and electrics. They’re also comprised of millions of lines of code.
This is where digital twin and the IoT come in. A digital twin uses data from connected sensors to tell the story of an asset all the way through its life cycle. From testing to use in the real world. With IoT data, we can measure specific indicators of asset health and performance, like temperature and humidity, for example. By incorporating this data into the virtual model, or the digital twin, engineers have a full view into how the car is performing, through real-time feedback from the vehicle itself.”
Digital twins are basically “complex virtual models that are the exact counterpart (or twin) of a physical thing. The ‘thing’ could be a car, a tunnel, a bridge, or even a jet engine. Connected sensors on the physical asset collect data that can be mapped onto the virtual model. Anyone looking at the digital twin can now see crucial information about how the physical object is doing out there in the real world.”
With the implementation of digital twins, organizations can gain better insights into product performance, improve customer service and make better operational and strategic decisions based on the information gained. The full concept revolutionizes the typical idea of first building something and then adapting it for the whole industry.
Digital twin technology, interactive video, 3D animation and IoT are just some of the new tools that can be leveraged to empower corporate video production. Here are a couple of examples of how digital twin technology can be integrated into software/game tutorials or instructional videos to obtain more appealing visuals for a better understanding and improved knowledge retention:
Today, CPSL is more than your LSP: we are your reliable technical partner and video producer – talk to us if you want to empower your corporate technical material! We can be your #OneStopShop for creating efficient, easy-to-use, multilingual eLearning content and comprehensive multimedia immersive projects from scratch.
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