Sunday, September 02, 2007

"In 2004, DARPA marched out its "phraselator," a device to help soldiers bark out simple commands in foreign languages. Today, these machines allow for comprehensible two-way communication. A new system designed at USC does real-time translation between a pair of users, in Arabic or Farsi. I watch a pair of grad students trade full sentences in different languages. A laptop transcribes, translates, and repeats their words aloud through a speaker. (The system isn't perfect, but it seems to work much better than Google Translate.) The translation can also be performed over a network, which means that some day soon you might be able to dial up the service on your cell phone."

"programmable matter." Eventually, he says, we'll have a blob of goo that can form itself into a hammer in one instant, a wrench in the next. "It's an instant toolkit … a universal spare part!"


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