Besides holodecks and food replicators, one of "Star Trek"’s great sci-fi inventions is the universal translator. This handy gadget automatically translates speech so its characters can converse in real-time with pointy-eared aliens and the like. Now, thanks to Microsoft, that technology now exists in the real world.
The company has been researching how to do this for nearly two decades and they’ve finally hit pay-dirt. The system uses Skype and all you have to do is a place a call to someone in another country and let a well paid team of translators the computer do the heavy lifting. Online demos seem to be running smoothly, with calls placed to Germany and France. The only drawback being that you have to wait until the person is done speaking before you hear it in your preferred language, so it’s not exactly real-time (yet).
Microsoft says this technology should be available for consumers by the end of the year. Who wants to crank call Japan?!
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