Microsoft bosses have announced an exciting new feature for Skype, pushing the popular VoIP service further ahead of the pack.
Starting this year with a beta Windows 8 app, voice callers will be able to switch on a real-time translation feature to hold conversations in more than one language at once.
Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync at Microsoft, demonstrated the technology during the Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California last week, showing it interpret English into German and vice versa.
"The Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator isn't a galaxy away," he later wrote on the official Microsoft blog. "Skype Translator opens up so many possibilities ... in education, diplomacy, multilingual families and in business. "
As features like this become a reality, it's easy to see why so many consumers and businesses turn to VoIP services as an alternative to mobile and landline calls.
However, one caveat is that a decent internet connection is required, which could be a problem for people who live and work in areas with substandard broadband coverage.