You remember how, on the original Star Trek, Captain Kirk used the Universal Translator to talk to the Gorn? C'mon -- the Gorn, 'member, that giant lizard creature Captain Kirk rassled with on Cestus III during the episode Arena? Yeah, that Gorn. Jeez. Anyway, says here the Universal Translator was created by Ensign Hoshi Sato on the original U.S.S. Enterprise in the late 21st century using the "linguacode matrix," which allowed for "instant translation of well-known Earth languages." But you so knew that already.
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Anyway, looks like the future's here today -- at least over at Children's Medical Center Dallas, where, this month, they're introducing a wireless, mobile video conferencing service called MARTTI, which is short for "My Accessible Real-Time Trusted Interpreter." Turns out, Children's is looking to bridge "the ever-increasing language gap" by allowing caregivers and docs to speak through an actual-human interpreter via real-time video conferencing. The MARTTI-heartiers will be fluent in some 150 languages (including American Sign Language) and will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No word on whether MARTTI speaks Gorn or Klingon, but I bet these people do. --Robert Wilonsky