Star Trek’s Universal Translator? Not Quite, but Pretty Close

The universal translator has been a staple of Star Trek lore since the beginning. It’s just one of those technologies that constantly threatens to make the leap from screen into real life.

Gizmodo brings us the story this week of the closest thing yet to a real universal translator - at least that I’ve seen. The Pocketalk, available for the not-incredibly-low price of $299 on Amazon, is a purpose-built unit that beats similar, app-based solutions, because it does what it does without using up your phone’s battery, and it comes with built-in mobile data so it works anywhere in the world. Quoting the blurb on Amazon: "Designed with simplicity in mind, Pocketalk combines the best speech-to-text, translation and text-to-speech engines from around the world. Using Wi-Fi, mobile data or a personal hotspot to connect to the internet, Pocketalk is able to provide the most accurate translations possible with a push of a button.”

Gizmodo quotes Noriyuki Matsuda, CEO and founder of Sourcenext: “The need to connect cultures and make the world feel a little smaller is stronger than ever and that's exactly our goal with this device.”

While the price tag might make you feel inclined to choke on your tea, Earl Grey, hot, if you’re in the market, the device features make it hard to turn down. Two years of all-you-can-use mobile data are included, with coverage in 128 countries and regions worldwide.

Alison Pitt