The hardest part about traveling abroad is feeling cut off from locals because you don't know the language. That could change as soon as by the end of the year, at least if you're traveling in Japan, due to a new product by Sharp and IBM. The small handheld device looks like a PDA, but it translates English to Japanese and vice-versa on the fly. Simply speak into it and have your questions about buying panties from a vending machine translated to what I assume is monotone, stilted Japanese. The plan is to release it to consumers by the end of the year for about $500, making your travels in the Pacific Rim a much less alienating experience, depending on what sorts of things you translate.
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