Mobile simultaneous translation equipment (bidule)

The bidule is a portable radio system with a transmitter and a microphone and receivers (earphones or headphones), used by interpreters in certain circumstances or locations for simultaneous translation. It allows the audio transmission of the translation, providing a clear and usable message to an audience that does not know the speaker’s native language.

Simultaneous interpreters and the bidule

To understand how it works, think of the bidule as the technology that makes communication possible between guides and tourists during city or museum tours. It allows an interpreter to translate the spoken word for a non-native audience. In this specific case, the professional, who is physically on site, listens to the guide’s explanation in the original language and translates it simultaneously into the target language, where it is transmitted from the professional’s microphone (usually a small one) to the earphones (or headphones) worn by the audience.

Bidule interpreting: an alternative to the simultaneous booth

The bidule system (from the French for “gadget”) is a simple and budget-friendly solution for interpreting specialists. Based on one-way communication, it can have various audio channels. When equipped with several transmitters, it is possible to offer the translation in several languages, which can be selected directly by the listener. This makes bidule equipment a valid alternative to the traditional simultaneous booth for interpreters when, due to limited space or budget, a booth set-up is not possible.

What does the bidule system look like and how does it work?

The bidule interpreting system is made up of a small case normally containing thirty receivers and two transmitters (one dynamic and one clip-on microphone). It is portable, extremely easy to handle and, thanks to its simple configuration, does not require a technician. Customers or interpreters can rent bidule equipment directly. The system has a range of around 100 metres and requires very little power.

Bidule equipment advice

Bear in mind when planning your event that this technology may be affected by interference from other radio sources. Something else to consider is the size of your target audience: the ideal number is around thirty people. Lastly, while the listeners can rely on noise cancellation from their earphones or headphones, the simultaneous translation specialist is working in an environment without optimal soundproofing.

When to use portable simultaneous translation equipment

The bidule lends itself well to many occasions and settings including guided tours, travelling exhibitions, excursions, on-the-go events, workshops, live events, shows and other kinds of entertainment, specialist conferences, multilingual corporate courses and art auctions.

Maximum protection of people’s health is ensured by disposable headphones or earphones – a must in the time of Covid-19.