Portable interpreting systems for "Bidule" tourist guides: PROS and CONS

Portable interpreting systems for tourist guides – PROS AND CONS

A portable interpretation system for tour guides, also known as a "bidule" or "infoport", is no substitute for a fully soundproof booth, but there are times when this system can serve a useful purpose. Do you want to organize guided tours that require speakers, interpreters and delegates to move from one place to another? Do you need an interpreting service for a small number of delegates, too small to guarantee a more sophisticated interpretation? The best solution is to use a portable system, often referred to in the interpreting field as “Infoport” or “Bidule”.

How does a portable system, or 'infoport' / 'bidule' work?

An contraption allows simultaneous interpretation without the use of an interpreting booth. The interpreters are equipped with a radio transmitter/microphone and wireless headphones are provided to each delegate who needs it. The interpreters listen directly to the speaker, and interpret through a microphone. The delegate can then receive the interpretation via headphones.

But what are the PROS and CONS of this system?

Here are some important factors to take into consideration:


  • A bidule is cheap, easy to install and carry around.
  • It allows for great flexibility
  • It takes up very little space.
  • Delegates can move from room to room with their interpreters.
  • It can be used as an alternative when the number of delegates is too large for whisper interpretation.
  • We provide an on-site technician who can resolve any technical issues that may arise.


  • Since the interpreters are not in a soundproof booth, their voices can distract other participants.
  • The sound conditions may be such as to make it impossible for the interpreters to translate the entire message (in case they will be asked to repeat in order to ensure maximum understanding for the delegates).
  • The sound quality for delegates is significantly lower than when using a full simultaneous interpretation facility.
  • This system is limited to interpretation between two languages. Also note that the same number of interpreters is needed as for simultaneous interpretation with a booth.
Despite its inherent disadvantages, there is no denying that the bidule can be a very useful solution for short meetings with a small number of delegates and for events on the go. Imagine, for example, a visit to a factory or large facility. Thanks to this portable system, delegates are free to move from site to site while listening to the original commentary in another language. In conclusion, a portable interpretation system can play a useful role for specific types of events. However, it should never be considered a viable alternative to a professionally installed simultaneous translation system and a completely soundproof booth.

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