US soldiers deployed in Iraq can now get language assistance from an iPhone or Blackberry. Sakhr Software, a company specializing in translation software, is porting its translation technology to work on mobile smart phone devices. It recently developed a tool for the iPhone to enable speech to speech translation. What this means is that you could speak directly into the phone in English and have the phone speak back to you in Arabic. Furthermore, it displays the translation in both Arabic and English characters allowing you to attempt to pronounce it correctly. Quite impressive!!
For the time being, it seems that the technology had been built to serve the US Department of Defense, to help bridge the communication gap between deployed soldiers and locals of the Middle East and ensure diplomacy is preserved in the field as well as avoid accidents due to miscommunication. We can't wait to see this available to the civilian market where anyone can tour any street in a small town in say Egypt, and be able to communicate directly with the locals.