Internet search giant Google unveiled a new technology on Tuesday that slowly interprets conversations between two people who do not speak the same language.
The software was demonstrated during a presentation by Eric Schmidt, chief executive of US-based Google, at the IFA consumer-electronics trade show in Berlin.
Speaking in a country where privacy crusaders have attacked his company, Schmidt stressed the democratic benefits for a world where three to four billion people will soon have internet connectivity.
"These changes are happening so quickly that societies are not really prepared for what's going to happen when everybody is online, everybody is posting information on what is going on around them," he said.
"I also think in general this is very good, that it empowers citizens, that citizens are fundamentally good, that citizens fundamentally want to make their country a better place."
The new software, which can be installed on an internet-connected Android mobile phone, enables two people to utter simple statements into the same phone and hear a translation after a delay, but cannot be used for live telephone conversations between two places.
The software fetches the translations from a powerful language server run by Google. An assistant to Schmidt demonstrated it, translating a simple dialogue between German and English.