As soldiers continue to operate overseas, the military has worked hard to find a way to let the English-speaking troops communicate with locals. Raytheon, one of the largest defense contractors working with the US government, says it's found an answer with its TransTalk system, which translates speech on the fly — I can speak English into a computer running the software, and it translates and speaks my words, in your language. It also keeps a Rosetta Stone-style transcript of the entire conversation, in both languages. It's designed with soldiers in the Middle East in mind, so the first six language pairings are English to Iraqi Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Farsi, Malaysian, and Indonesian; the software stores tens of thousands of words in each language, geared toward what soldiers and civillians are talking about. As you can see in the video below, the resulting conversation is a little stilted, and the translation imperfect, but it works impressively well.
TransTalk was originally designed to run on super-tough Windows XP laptops like the Panasonic Toughbook, but those are are rather unweildy. So Raytheon built an Android version that's simpler, smaller, and easier to pass between the communicating parties; it can also connect two phones, and use them to talk back and forth. Rather than use military-specific equipment, Raytheon recommends the Nexus One, but sorry, folks— this is one app that's not coming to the Android Market.