Translation glassesI wear spectacles, but they’re nowhere near as hi-tech (or useful) as these glasses invented by NEC.

The company says it is planning to launch spectacles that can aid real-time translation, allowing chat between users to flow freely. Whilst they’re not exactly like specs (they won’t help you see better); they more resemble a headset with a microphone, and this is how they work:

…the microphone on the headset picks up the voices of both people in a conversation, pipes it through translation software and voice-to-text systems and then sends the translation back to the headset.

At the same time as a user hears a translation, they would also get text subtitles beamed onto the retina. (Source: BBC News)

I’m not so sure about having “subtitles beamed onto [my] retina” (sounds painful!) but this definitely sounds like a useful tool. I can imagine as a language learner you could use it to connect with native language speakers all over the world, turning the translation on and off as and when you want to use it. Sadly, we’ll have to wait til 2011 to find out how useful it really is!