Travellers have started seeing translation tools appear over recent years, some turning text into different languages and even some producing instant audio.
But Microsoft is trying to take the concept to the next level after creating a prototype that acts as a translation tool but retains the original voice, including tone and accent.
Fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will recall something similar with the famous Babel Fish device.
But back to the real world.
Unveiled at Microsoft's recent TechFest 2012 event and developed by Microsoft Research Asia, the speaker uses a system to model the inflections in their voice (this takes an hour of learning by the system), but rather than produce a robotic translation, as per other services, Text To Speech repeats the phrase in the selected language but keeps speaker's voice.
It currently works in 26 languages and is still, clearly, a bit rough around the edges. But imagine putting such a service into a mobile app which has already synthesised the user's voice?
Perfect for lazy travellers, some might say. But certainly a useful device for the travel industry.
Here is a clip - watch from 12m to around 21m hear about the technical specifications and see the demo itself:
NB:Translated words image via Shutterstock.