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NEC glasses beam translations onto retina

This is where you'll get the Babel Fish interpretations

If it were early April we'd take NEC's claims for its latest prototype gadget with a sack load of salt, but as it's November we'll have to turn down the disbelief and pay closer attention.

The company's Tele Scouter glasses were unveiled this week in Tokyo to – it's fair to say – some scepticism in the local press.

Babel Fish for real?

That's probably because NEC says the specs can function as an optical version of the Babel Fish of Hitchhiker's fame and simultaneously interpret multiple languages.

Moreover, the device outputs the translations by beaming text directly onto the wearer's retina. Yes – it shoots information into your eyes.

Asking for trouble

The company says it's a simple matter of using voice-recognition software and a machine-translation application, although combining both imprecise sciences in one package is surely asking to be misunderstood.

Admittedly, NEC says that aspect of the Tele Scouter won't be ready when it goes on sale in 2011 at ¥7.5 million (£50,000) for a package of 30 pairs of glasses.

Instead, that version will use face-recognition software to help shop sales staff identify customers and access their shopping history for that 'personal' sales touch.