While Apple and Google continue to fight each other in court, cooperation between the companies' technologies helped save the life of a dying diabetic on Sunday.
A 57-year-old Chinese man was driving westbound on I-84 in The Dalles, Ore., when he started suffering from symptoms of a diabetic reaction. Diabetics can experience intense physiological reactions when they have too much or not enough sugar in their blood; high blood sugar, like this man's case, induces symptoms such as dry skin, thirstiness, a rapid pulse and shallow breathing. If untreated, the effects can lead to confusion, a coma, or worse, death.
Two Oregon State Police troopers, senior trooper Mike Holloran and Sgt. Pat Shortt, started receiving complaints of a man who was having trouble driving, and stopped the man's car at about 3 p.m. When the two officers approached the car and tried to speak to the man, they realized that he didn't speak any English, only Chinese. He looked to show signs of impairment, but they had extreme difficulty communicating with the man.
The one word that he could say in English, I remember, was 'tired.' He was saying that he was tired, Holloran said. And he looked tired. I mean, he was having a hard time keeping himself awake.
Instinctively, Holloran fetched his personal iPhone from the police cruiser and launched his Google Translate app. Google Translate can currently translate text between 63 languages, which can be typed or spoken into the device, including non-Latin script languages like Chinese and Japanese.
Holloran used Google Translate to translate his words into Chinese, and the man's Chinese words into English. Holloran typed in, Are you diabetic? and the device read the correct translation aloud in Chinese.
I held my phone up to his ear and he listened, Holloran said. It was actually kind of comical because he started talking back to my phone, as if there was someone else on the other end.
Holloran corrected the man, telling him that it was a phone translator. Through more translated dialogue with the man, Holloran and his sargeant discovered that the man had been driving non-stop from Montana on very little rest, food, and insulin.
Once the officers discovered that the man was a diabetic, they contacted medical personnel, who arrived on the scene shortly therafter. EMTs confirmed that the man's blood sugar was very high -- it was at 540, which is roughly five times higher than what's considered a normal level. The paramedics realized the man was experiencing a diabetic reaction, and they took him to a nearby hospital.
The Chinese man was treated and released from the Mid Columbia Medical Center. The man's son reportedly drove down from Seattle to help his father leave the hospital, according to Shortt.
Holloran says he has been razed by fellow troopers ever since the incident, which would have been lost in translation were it not for Apple and Google's technology pairing. After all, he had originally been reluctant to go out and buy a smartphone in the first place.
Only fitting, I guess, the guy who gets one last gets to use one first, Holloran said.