Studies have shown that Americans waste large amounts of valuable time learning to speak foreign languages. The national obsession with understanding other countries and their cultures has threatened to damage our own productivity here at home, and frankly, it's somewhat of an embarrassment. Fortunately, the Army is working on a gadget that will allow people to translate languages in real time, with no need for the tedium that comes with learning a language that, if it isn't English, is probably useless. The small computerlike device will translate language, both spoken (using a microphone) and printed (using a built-in camera), instantly — so all you have to do is speak into your handheld interpreter, and it'll do the talking. While other translators have had trouble because they were designed to adhere to strict rules of grammar, the new device focuses on how a language is generally spoken on a day-to-day basis, which makes the process easier. Currently being tested by soldiers in Iraq, the translator is more than likely many years from hitting the consumer market, but when it arrives we can finally focus again on what's really important: ourselves.
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