The next bit of futuristic Star Trek tech about to become a reality? The universal translator. That, of course, was the device that let Kirk and crew, Picard and crew, etc., communicate with whatever alien of the week they encountered. Star Trek viewers saw the device in the flesh in the "Metamorphosis" episode of TOS and during the run of Enterprise . And technophiles got their first real-life glimpse at the equivalent of a universal translator on May 27, when Microsoft -- onstage at the inaugural Code Conference – unveiled Skype Translate, a version of Skype that will enable real-time language translation (via text and audio).

Various elements of the real-time translation project had been shown off before by Microsoft, but what Microsoft VP Gurdeep Singh Pall revealed at the Code Conference put all the elements together, paving the way for it to reach beta stage in an update of Skype some time later this year, according to Re/ Re/ noted that Microsoft will begin with several languages that will be translatable only through the Windows version of Skype, with Microsoft planning to add more languages quickly and to support the many types of computers and mobile devices utilized by Skype customers.

As Star Trek fans know, Bing Translate supported Klingon. Asked by Re/Code about the possibility of Skype supporting that, too, Singh Pall replied, “We can get to it later.”


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