NEC Phone Translates Spoken Voice Into Touristy Demands

A newly developed phone from NEC will take the spoken words of Japanese tourists and turn them into an English translation on the fly. The translator's 50,000 word vocab is geared towards the typical tourist pleas: "Can I have a subway route map?" "How far away is the hotel?" and "Where can I find decent Japanese food in this God-forsaken country?" The translation appears as text, rather than being played aloud as voice, because that takes more horsepower and the developers are afraid of a miscommunication. While we've seen dedicated translation devices from IBM and even NEC's own early prototype, this is the first time the entire system fits on a small chip mounted within a functioning cell phone. Too bad the technology wasn't around soon enough to help Chris Farley. [AFP]