Check out the first step to a Star Trek-style universal translatorS

War-zones such as Afghanistan never have enough interpreters, often forcing soldiers to rely on nonverbal communication that's easily misunderstood. Three new devices solve that by automatically translating one language to another - and you can see it in action!

The National Institute of Standards and Technology have been testing translation devices for the last four years. Three systems created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have made the leap from relatively clunky microphones and laptops to something that can work on a regular smart phone, giving the translation devices unprecedented portability. The overall DARPA project, dubbed TRANSTAC, aims to reduce the reliance on human translators, who are often in short supply and aren't always trustworthy.

You can see a video below demonstrating the translators (along with an opening tip of the hat to Star Trek). The best part of all this? Knowing how often military devices eventually trickle down to the civilian world, these machines should make traveling to foreign countries in 2020 a whole lot easier.

[NIST]