Sakhr is a translation company with big clients like the U.S. Department of Defense and Homeland Security. They specialize in English/Arabic translation, and this demo of their iPhone/Blackberry app (not publicly available) looks like the Holy Grail of translation software.
You hold a button, say a phrase and the software captures the information through speech recognition. The text is then translated into either Arabic or English (in the cloud, we believe) and then read aloud so mispronunciation is not an issue.
Of course, voice recognition is one of those fabled computer advancements that’s parked in a perpetual spot “right around the corner,” but if this app works even with 85% accuracy, that’s close enough for most tourists—even if soldiers could find the mistakes a bit more costly.
It’s just too bad that Sakhr probably makes too much money off the US government to ever license the tech for those of us who’d just want to trek through Europe without a pocket dictionary. So let’s go to war with France so I can visit the Eiffel Tower!