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This Couple Used an A.I. Lip-Dubbing App to Bridge a Language Gap

Mr. Romero visits Ms. Ochoa in Mexico about once a month. But when they’re apart, the A.I.-powered app transports Ms. Ochoa to Mr. Romero’s kitchen or to a wrestling tournament as he coaches his teenage son. They exchange messages on WhatsApp and video chat as Ms. Ochoa gets ready for work. In addition to the lip-dub feature, Ms. Ochoa will often use her iPad to translate their tête-à-tête, while Mr. Romero uses the Timekettle WT2 Edge — earbuds with two-way simultaneous translation that help him follow a conversation in real time.

Because their work hours differ, Ms. Ochoa is usually working while Mr. Romero is sleeping. “But in the morning, it’s always, ‘Good morning, love,’ accompanied by a video from LeRoy wishing me a good day,” she said.

The tech apps aren’t always perfect — but Mr. Romero said sometimes that was a good thing.

“There’s no retakes unless you shoot the video several times,” Mr. Romero said of the lip-dubbing app. “I think it brings out the perfect imperfections of communication, and I think it helps you grow.”

In October, Mr. Romero sent a new translated video message — this time to Ms. Ochoa’s grandmother, seeking her blessing before asking Ms. Ochoa to marry him in person. Shedding his A.I. helpers, Mr. Romero said he meticulously memorized Spanish phrases for weeks leading up to the engagement. They’re planning a wedding for this summer in Rosarito, Mexico.

They realize they will probably not rely on A.I. tools forever: The couple have also begun helping each other learn Spanish and English the old-fashioned way. “I try to teach him five flashcards a day when he’s with me,” Ms. Ochoa said. “He’ll tell me, ‘No, four — no, three. And I’m like, ‘No — five!’”

In a joint interview this month, the couple chatted in both languages, occasionally pausing to make sure they were on the same page — and so Mr. Romero could offer a “te amo” to Ms. Ochoa.

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