So I was digging around when I found DARPArama, kind of a clearinghouse of prototypes and ideas and whatnot out of DARPA, or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
And I started reading about the Phraselator…and frankly, you’re not going to believe this.
The Phraselator is a voice recognition based translator device. Basically, you speak it at the Phraselator and it tells you the equivalent of what you want to say in another language, much like the Universal Translator devices of Star Trek fame. The Phraselator starts out with an onboard six languages, but this is only a starting point as the Phraselator can be taught many more. In fact, the Los Angeles Police Department, which bought several of them, taught their Phraselators a whopping 224 languages.
It may well be only a matter of time before we can slip on a Bluetooth-style headset, go anywhere in the world, and be absolutely certain we speak the native language no matter what language we actually speak.