How cool is this?! The Babel Fish exists! Google is developing an smartphone application that can translate the spoken word.
Here is a demonstration of "Conversation Mode" using the Android operating system that was done at the German consumer electronics trade show Internationalen Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) in September 2010.
Conversation Mode combines Google Translate (high speed text translation - easily available by using Google's Chrome browser) and Google Voice, (text to speech/speech to text). Users speak one language into their phone -- and their phone will "speak"/playback another!
The software is designed to "learn" in the same way that Google Translate learns languages. One of the results will be that languages with larger pools of linguistic information will improve faster than languages used by smaller populations. (So I'm not holding my breath for great improvements in Norwegian...)
Last year Google Translate added five more languages (Azerbaijani, Armenian, Basque, Urdu and Georgian), bringing them to a total of 57 available languages. More are in the works.
It's expected that Conversation Mode will be free when released -- like all other Google apps. One can only hope they'll release an iPhone version, too.
This is really taking conversation to a whole new level!