Babel Fish is both a Norwegian pop band and – more relevant to this article – a fictitious fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that can perform instant translations.
With the latter notion in mind, Google is said to be working on a Babel Fish phone where the caller speaks in one language, and the person at the other end hears another.
That’s the story according to The Times Technology (subscription required), which reveals that Google has grand plans to turn phones into “universal translators”.
"That is where we're headed," croons Hugo Barra, a vice-president of Android. "We've got tons of prototypes of that sort of interaction, and I've played with it every other week to see how much progress we've made."
The aim is to have the Babel Fish phone translation performed almost instantaneously, in the space of just a few seconds.
Of course, translation is nothing new to smartphones. Google Translate, for example, is available on Google Play and the App Store, allowing users to translate both text and speech.
And at the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, Sammo made a big deal about its S Translator feature, described as “an easy way to quickly translate spoken words or entered text into several languages”.