Joshua Gao, a 24-year-old tech entrepreneur from Toronto, created a chat app that can accurately translate slang and idioms into multiple languages as a way to communicate with his Chinese parents.
Binko Chat, which is available for both iOS and Android, was launched on March 29 and supports over 15 languages, including English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
“Binko is revolutionizing the way second-generation immigrants communicate with their families by breaking down language barriers and enabling seamless conversations,” the app’s official description states.
Gao tells NextShark that his app initially started as a short-term project to help him and his friends communicate with their parents on a deeper level.
“My parents are getting old, they’re in their 60s now,” Gao shares. “My family’s WeChat group is just filled with pictures of food. It’s lovely, but I want to get into a deeper conversation instead of just sending photos of food and being like, ‘Did you eat yet?’”
Gao’s parents moved to Toronto from Beijing around 30 years ago.
Their English is terribly mediocre, and my Chinese is just as bad. It’s a really weird dynamic where my relationship with them is instinctively very rich, and I love them a lot, but it’s really tough to accurately communicate deep thoughts with them. I want to talk to them like I would with a friend, but I can’t find the right words. It’s been something on my mind my whole life.
Gao and his friends wanted to create a live chat application that could explain and translate slang and idioms to make translated conversations sound natural.
While Gao and his friend Duy Nguyen focused on conceptualizing and designing Binko Chat, his other friends, Mogen Cheng and Tristan Tsvetanov, concentrated on developing the app.
After three months of hard work, Gao and his friends decided to launch their app internationally.
Binko Chat now has thousands of users because of the humorous Facebook post. According to Gao, most of the app’s users are second-generation children who wish to communicate with their family members in other countries.
Gao, who previously co-founded the POS system Mentum for restaurants and the clothing brand Orange Juice The Brand, hopes to partner with Asian influencers to promote his latest innovation.
“I want to get more people using it and see if people really feel an affinity towards what it could do,” Gao shares.
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