Google has revealed that it is developing instant translation software for mobile phones of the future, making communication between those of different mother tongues far easier.
The software will take advantage of established voice recognition technology, but will broaden its potential into the realms of automatic translation.
Google says that it will be able to get an initial release of the software off the drawing board and on to mobile phones within two years, although with over six thousand global languages to cover, it has got a lot of work to do.
Google's browser based translation service is already taking down the language barrier piece-by- piece thanks to its scanning of multilingual online resources, allowing it to be perpetually improved and expanded.
Google hopes that eventually its mobile phone software will act almost as well as having a human interpreter with you on your travels, with the ability to absorb a whole conversation and acclimatise to the flow, speech pattern and dialect being used before offering a translation.
Google's Frans Och said: "We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years' time.
"Recognition should be effective with mobile phones because by nature they are personal to you. The phone should get a feel for your voice from past voice search queries, for example."
As with most of Google's products, the more the translator software is used, the more the system as a whole will improve. Google expects that abundant data will be available, given the importance of translation to millions of the world's inhabitants.
It looks as though Google's ambitious project could take a good few years to approach the kind of translation techniques we are used to seeing in sci-fi movies.
Linguistics expert David Crystal said that regional accents would prove to be the most problematic hurdle for any live translation software.