It has been a staple of science fiction for decades, and could be a godsend for tourists grappling with directions to their hotel.
An earpiece that lets its wearer understand other nationalities by instantly translating foreign languages is due to go on sale next month.
The £140 device, which can decode eight languages, is inspired by translators such as the Babel fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which allowed the earthling Arthur Dent to comprehend alien races on his adventures.
Lingmo International, the Australian firm behind the Translate One2One earpiece, said it would put an end to awkward international meetings between politicians and business leaders.
The device translates sentences in three to five seconds using IBM’s artificial intelligence language software, Watson.
It is the first earpiece of its kind to translate languages without needing a constant connection to a mobile phone or Wi-Fi signal, and can translate between English, French, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German and Chinese.
Lingmo has put the device on sale and claims it will be delivered as early as mid-July, in time for the start of the summer holidays.
There is one catch, however: the speaker and listener will have to wear a device each for the translation software to work.
Several technology companies are developing language earpieces aimed at making embarrassing holiday encounters a thing of the past, while Google recently upgraded its translation software so that it is able to understand full sentences, instead of converting phrases word by word.