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A portable VRI booth has been developed by UMONS AND A PRIVATE COMPANY

In March 2010, the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting – EII of UMONS and the United Nations Organisation signed an agreement for collaboration.  The FTI-EII is the only Faculty in Belgium to have established such an agreement with the UN.  This “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) sets up a framework for cooperation in training candidates for competitive language examinations in view of avoiding a scarcity of qualified interpreters.

Little over a year after the signing of the agreement, Dr. Shaaban M. Shaaban, UN Under-Secretary General for the General Assembly and Conference Management, returned to the FTI-EII this Tuesday, 7 June 2011, to deliver a progress report on the collaboration and to assess its impact. Since March 2010, about 10 UMONS students have had the opportunity to carry out internships in Geneva or New York in the offices of the UN.

Dr. Shaaban was also present for the premiere presentation of an especially innovative video interpretation tool.  This semi-virtual technology makes it possible to call upon professional interpreters without their having to be physically present at the site of the event!

This one-of-a-kind equipment was designed and produced thanks to a partnership between the Centre for Multimedia Studies and Research (CERM) at UMONS and the firm 3GSP.  The VRI portable interpreting booth will be commercialised in the long term.

The two partners have put together a new semi-virtual interpreting technology. The concept is based on a dual innovation: a remote interpreting booth and video-interpreting technology that is adapted to the demands and specificities of the field. UMONS and 3GSP are actively working on setting up the structures needed for applying and commercialising this jointly developed semi-virtual technology. Within a few months, the two partners hope to announce the birth of the new entity.
The acoustic booth is compact and well-lit.  It has the shape of a dodecahedron and simply sits on a desk. It was designed and tested to deliver optimal sound quality and to prevent outside noises from bleeding in.  Care was also taken to avoid feelings of claustrophobia and to enhance the interpreter’s concentration.

The booth goes along with the interpreter’s portable PC, a webcam (usually the one that comes with the computer), a headset, a mic and a soundboard.

The application is based on the recommendations of professional interpreters from UMONS. The setup allows interpreters to work in pairs and each one can choose the virtual room to work in (target language).
Interpreters who work from their office or from home anywhere in the world are freed from the constraints of travelling to the interpretation site. The network offers great flexibility and optimised availability. This solution gives end-clients a high-quality solution that minimises organisational and logistical constraints. Interpreters who choose this option have great working flexibility: they can interpret part-time, in combination with other activities or as their main source of income.

What are the advantages of this new system ?

  • Saving time
  • Saving space (no booths in conference halls)
  • Flexibility
  • Saving money
  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Autonomy


François-Xavier Despret, CEO of 3GSP: “The demands of the field of interpreting drove us to come up with a very specific solution. We have worked with CERM for nearly two years on this project in collaboration with numerous partners. The combination of the experience of UMONS and CERM enabled us to provide a coherent solution that meets the needs of an economic reality». 

More info :

  • UMONS Technology Transfer Office, Mr. Jonathan Pardo Tel. : +32 (0)65/37.47.85

E-mail :

  • CERM, Prof. H. Safar Tel. : +32 (0)65/39.45.16

E-mail :

  • 3GSP, Mr. F.-X. Despret Tel. : +32 (0)81/56.02.72

E-mail :