How long until we get a babelfish iPhone app?

I think the future is awesome right now and lately I've been amazed at all the stuff I can do with my laptop on the road (like edit an image on my home desktop and upload that to a web server while on vacation in the middle of nowhere) and my iPhone (the mantra "there's an app for that" is really true) that I had an obvious idea the other day while watching a film with subtitles.

The iPhone is great for finding food and points of interest while traveling, it's been indispensable on my last few trips. While finding national parks and a place to get dinner helps out a great deal in unfamiliar territory, the language barrier is still with us. The new iPhone 3GS has a microphone and voice recognition. While I know it's a leap that current iPhone chipset performance and API may not allow, I'm hopeful that this feature is coming soon.


Imagine landing in a country, using your iPhone to figure out your location and find your hotel and somewhere to eat. Now imagine you need to ask for help from someone on the street so you launch a babelfish app, pick the required language and speak into your phone mic while it displays the results. Here is me asking "Where is the library?" into an imagined app.

This can't be too far off, right? Even if the recognition wasn't that good, you can get a lot of information out of a few key words and figure out what someone is asking about.

Of course, to make it work really well, it'd also need to translate answers as well, so could get english text results for the answers you get, and that might just be beyond the scope of even current high powered desktop computers.

Still, I have hope we'll see an app like this someday in the next 5-10 years that works on portable devices.