Last year NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese mobile communications operator, developed an app to translate menus. They are now announcing they are testing a new phone whose main feature is to translate conversations in almost real-time using cloud technology.

At the moment, it only does translation between Japanese and English. Some 400 people are trying out the service, and DoCoMo is tweaking it to solve any problems that come up. Testing will end in March at which point hospitals, retailers and tourist-specific services are going to start using it.

Of course, this is nowhere near the ultimate translation system, even if it is a step in the right direction. The pause between speaking and hearing the translated version is only 2 seconds, and Japanese accuracy is around 90%, whereas English accuracy is slightly behind at 80%.

These are not bad results for a mobile phone, but if you want 100% quality and reliability you can only trust a trained interpreter. Ask SanTranslate.