DARPA and NIST have teamed up to create translation software designed to aid the U.S. military in communicating with non-English speakers in Afghanistan. One of the systems being tested for the project, called TRANSTAC, involves an HTC Nexus One handset and a special accessory, which appears to be a PTT button and likely a microphone as well.
The software is designed to aid U.S. military personnel communicate with non-English speakers in instances where translators are not available. According to Brian Weiss, there are "a shortage of very reliable interpreters, and machine translation offers a unique tool in the sense that machines dont get tired, people do."
Currently, there are three systems being tested which translate Pashto into English, and English back into Pashto. There are also plans for a version support Dari (also spoken in Afghanistan) and Iraqi Arabic.
According to the articel from NIST, previous systems "used microphones and portable computers. Engadget notes that "specific details on the translation systems are otherwise a bit hard to come by", which makes sense at this point in time.
Below is a video on YouTube showing the device in action (along with plenty of Star Trek snippets):
AndroidandMe adds that "the concept of using an Android device for translation isn’t new, we’re pretty excited to see that DARPA and NIST are using Android in their lineup for testing devices."
Image from Engadget