Remember the old story by Sergei Lukyanenko about a smart gadget that prevented the main character from drinking vodka? An imaginary device, not adapted to domestic realities, considered the situations in which the owner finds himself deadly. Exactly until the regional standard was changed in the settings. Yes, a gadget is not just a kettle. He needs to speak the same language with the user. In all senses.
The Madrobots team faced similar challenges when localizing the Picooc smart scale. Chinese originals on the outside are indistinguishable from Western designs, because local designers have learned to perfectly reproduce minimalist designs. But you dig deeper into the application, and old Confucius comes out from there and shakes his beard.
Difficulties in translation
Madrobots found the Picooc smart scale in 2017 at the Distree exhibition in Monaco. Love at first sight: behind the beautiful design was an ambitious plan for those times to make big data friends with the analysis of the weight of millions of users. That is, a very advanced fitness app.
What is a smart scale? These are ordinary scales that connect to a smartphone or the Internet, record user data and somehow help keep track of weight. Picooc does much more: it analyzes body composition using bioimpedance, and the app predicts trends and advises on how to proceed.
We have undertaken translation, technical support and product promotion on the Russian market. Many in the team use Picooc weights themselves and are well aware of their shortcomings. He is one, in fact. The scale and the app accurately analyze the situation, but with a problem.
The most difficult thing to suspect is a Russian user of political correctness. He is the first to run to ask Western developers for inclusive wording and the desire to bend under censors.
This happens exactly until the moment when his personal interests are not affected. Then body positivity ceases to seem like a swear word.
Chinese users, compared to Russians, are less likely to be polite and not violate personal boundaries. The Confucian tradition seems to favor empathy towards others, but in Chinese, the Picooc smart scale app swears at the user, like Major Payne:
– Hey, you haven’t weighed yourself for a long time, go, has a piece of fat grown on your lower back?
– You gained weight and the percentage of fat remained the same. Lazy in recent days?
– Your weight has gone up sharply in recent days. Setting a new record?
– Well, cabbage heads? The roots were pulled out, got out and went to sleep. Tomorrow is a tough day.
– Even harder ?! (Major Payne)
Stretch the paragraph above 500,000 characters. This is half the volume of War and Peace, and that is how much we had to translate a difficult text full of complex fitness terms and endless personalized advice.
In addition, excess weight, which corresponds to morbid obesity, was called obesity. In Chinese and in the suggested English translation. How straightforward!
Harsh love can work, or it can demotivate. The bunny rabbits on the team didn’t like it when the app scolded them for their mistakes. So we had to read thousands of strings in their entirety, figure out what was supposed to be written there, edit them and then rewrite them.
The editors removed familiarity and softened a number of wording. In Russian, the application has become polite and body-positive, which, by the way, is lacking in the English version.
|Your weight started to increase last week. Is it because you ate a lot and didn’t exercise?
|You may not have exercised enough and overdosed on calories.
|Your weight has increased and your body fat percentage has increased. Are you annoyed by your cellulite on the buttocks?
|Your weight and body fat have increased. Fat can accumulate on the legs and buttocks due to lack of exercise.
|This is frivolous of you: you let your waist get fat.
|Pay attention to body fat in the waist and abdomen.
|You are struggling to change your physique. But everything you eat makes you fat.
|You are trying to change your body, but gaining weight, it seems, even from a glass of water.
|Your body weight and fat have increased in those two days. Pampering yourself instead of dieting or skipping exercise?
|Your weight and body fat percentage have increased. Perhaps you have not followed your diet or exercise regimen.
|Have you eaten a lot lately without training? Even if you didn’t know about it, everything is under the control of PICOOC. We remind you that it is time to pay attention to the changes in your body.
|You may have been overdoing your food lately and not exercising. Time to pay attention to your body.
Another creative debate was launched by the name of the smart assistant built into the Picooc app. It was released this year with another update. The helper provides more human short-term analysis, exercise and food advice, and emotional support. This useful function in the original received a nickname worthy of a Bond villain: Doctor S. “Doctor Death” – we thought, remembered Mengele and decided to do something with a bad association.
During the brainstorm, we came to the conclusion that the smart assistant would be called “Smart Assistant”. Such will no longer engage in crimes against humanity, but will definitely help maintain a healthy state of the body.
Now we are fighting another manifestation of the Chinese mentality. The app congratulates the user when his body type changes to “normal” from “sporty”.
This is the internal logic of the application. The developers believe that any return to normalcy is a positive change, even if the user is out of shape. The Madrobots team disagrees with this philosophy. We want to encourage our users not to stop. Sport – is life.
Faster, higher, stronger
Why do people use smart weights at all? And even like the Picooc scale: with bioimpedance body composition analysis? The scale is used mainly for weight loss and exercise, to monitor how diet and exercise are reducing fat and how muscle is growing.
Picooc has an advantage over the competition: a lot of useful information in the app. The scale paired with the application determines more than 10 parameters, including weight, percentages of different types of fat and muscle, metabolic rate.
Muscle (% / kg / ideal / control)
Internal fat index
Basal metabolic rate (current / target / control)
Body water (%)
Skeletal muscle (%)
Body mass index
Lean body mass
You can find out the details in our previous article.
The figures are accompanied by a detailed textual analysis of the state of the body. This is the same “swearing” that we had to edit for a long time. The text with the graph is displayed on the Analyze tab. The smart assistant duplicates and supplements this information in the “Measurement report”.
The Picooc app warns in advance if the user has started to gain weight and congratulates when everything goes according to plan. A third of the text is devoted to advice on what to do in the situation in which the person being measured finds himself.
The recommendations are accurate. But the original texts are intended for the Chinese, not the Russians. The names of the exercises, the nuances of the diet (will a Russian-speaking user eat fish skin?) – again the device of death according to Lukyanenko comes out.
And users are used to good things and ignore text without videos and pictures.
If you want to do something well, do it yourself. At the beginning of 2020, we invited Tatyana Fedorishcheva, a fitness blogger, to the project. She has developed a versatile quick workout program for the Picooc brand using fitness bands. Training bands were available with the purchase of one of three models of weights. Course remains freely available to everyone… The campaign was a success: users were able to follow the form and tools to maintain it.
Fitness bands are a replacement for dumbbells, a horizontal bar and a strength bench. Stretching exercises can be performed with ribbons to develop coordination and build muscle mass. You can’t drop such a thing on the floor to the delight of neighbors, you can take it with you on trips. Solid pluses! You turn on the video and do it anywhere.