Voxtech Phraselator P2
"Captain, I'm picking up strange signals."
"Mister Chekov, put it on speaker."
(Insert inane babble.)
"Spock. Translate that code."
"I'm afraid I cannot, captain. I need the VoxTec Phraselator P2."
Believe it or not, the VoxTec Phraselator P2 is a real device that really translates. Of course, it isn't as effective as the one on Star Trek. However, I don't think any translator could be that good. By that I mean don't ask me how it could translate an alien language it never heard before after one phrase. I mean, come on!
But all Star Trek references aside, The VoxTec Phraselater P2 was designed and developed by the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA). This tech is still under construction, and is being tested to translate English phrases into other languages. I'm guessing it would come in handy for the soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever they are stationed. It certainly would come in handy in situations where soldiers need to talk to civilians.
The P2 certainly seems built to take damage as it is shock-proof as well as water resistant. It is easily portable (5 x 7 inches) and can clip onto a belt or fit in a pocket. The battery provides 20 hours of translation, and 1 GB of internal flash memory. It interfaces to your computer via USB, and will hopefully be set up to download new languages as easily as iTunes.
I really think that the time is come that somebody perfects this technology. After all, we live in a world that is infected with the Babel curse. If you think about it, the only thing that really prevents us from going touring other countries is the lack of their language. If we could have a device that can translate, then we honestly should have made it years ago. Something like this could really open up borders like they have never been opened before.
Of course, I'm guessing that this device does not detect the nuances of language. I've always wondered if sarcasm was a universal thing, otherwise something will obviously get lost in translation with this Phraselator. Perhaps it they can program it to read tone as well. Speaking of lost in translation, I'm guessing that half of the English that we use on a daily basis would not translate well, and the same goes for other languages. For example, the French have a saying that literally translates to "mind your own onions", but means the same thing as "mind your own business".
Well, I'm anxious to see the Phraselator in action. In the meantime, we'll have to learn language the old fashioned way.