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A new translation device is a 'game changer' for Hillsborough County DMV

 White device sitting on a wooden table with translation on the screen.
Meghan Bowman
WUSF Public Media
The new Pocketalk is a device that can scan documents and translate 82 languages. It will help the Hillsborough County Tax Collector's customer service representatives assist customers that are non-native English speakers.

Pocketalk will assist representatives at the Department of Motor Vehicles with customers who are non-native English speakers. Hillsborough Tax Collector Nancy Millan calls the device a 'game changer.'

Making a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles can be exhausting — especially if English is not your first language.

But the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office is trying to change that with a high-tech approach.

A device called Pocketalk will now be available for customer service representatives to translate 82 different languages.

Tax Collector Nancy Millan said their office is the first in the state to use a translation tool like this.

"It really has been a game changer," she said. "Not only is it able to speak person-to-person, but you're also able to scan (and translate) documents."

The county has made about 100 of the devices available to its eight branches.

“It's given us that opportunity now to be able to communicate with our customers and be able to bridge that gap," Millan said.

She said the tool will help employees work more efficiently and better serve their 1.5 million customers with getting driver's licenses, registering cars, or whatever else they need to do.

The device retails for around $200.

Paul Malmquist, Pocketalk's Director of Business Operations, said the tool will help streamline appointments for customers and help reduce wait times.

"Without communication, there is no progress, and the progress that is being made by Hillsborough County Tax Collectors, and this office, and this staff is fantastic," he said.

"Sometimes coming into an office that has 200 people in the waiting room can be overwhelming," Millan added. "So having this device and being able to communicate with them and walk them through the next steps is extremely helpful."

Nothing about my life has been typical. Before I fell in love with radio journalism, I enjoyed a long career in the arts in musical theatre.