Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a speech translator similar to the device used on the Star Trek Enterprise.
The machine was tested by US Army chaplains in Croatia and, according to a recently released research paper, demonstrates the way in which simple speech-to-speech translation systems can be rapidly and successfully constructed.
Commissioned by the US Army, which is increasingly finding itself in peace-keeping roles where communication is key, the portable translator is installed in a standard laptop.
For the trials, the chaplains used the translator to speak to Croatians who knew just a smattering of English.
The system worked by picking up the words in Croatian and turning the speech into text. The written words were then translated into English and read out by a speech synthesiser.
Although the research team admitted that the system is not yet ready to be deployed in the field, they believe that it could be brought up to scratch with further research and development.
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