Hurrah! Sony's announced that its multi-language translation assistant Max will be helping the likes of us to speak foreign languages this May. Which is code for the fact that TalkMan is due out on PSP in Europe around then.
You may remember we got a bit excited about TalkMan when we were introduced to it during the Tokyo Game Show. In short, it allows you to translate phrases - either spoken through a USB microphone peripheral that clips onto the top of the PSP or selected from a stock list - into other languages so that whoever you're talking to knows what you're saying.
But it's more than that. Creator Yoshi Yamamoto originally came up with the idea when he sat next to a girl in Florence and couldn't actually say anything to her because she didn't understand English or Japanese and he didn't understand Italian. TalkMan doesn't just translate phrases between English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese, but uses a little on-screen bird called Max to animate proceedings. You can add emphasis (Max does little dances and so on), and also select the setting you're in to give him the appropriate background. There'll be 28 to choose from including hotel foyer, restaurant, nightclub and ski slope.
TalkMan also features tools to help you learn the languages included - Pronunciation and Listening games - as well as helpful voice memo, alarm clock and unit conversion features. On top of that, there's a Friend Map that lets you add markers to different areas to show where you met people - or get them to prod details into the PSP to do it for you.
Having seen it in action, we can tell you that it works pretty well. Whether it'll be the conversation-starting, ice-breaking idea that Yamamoto hopes is something we'll be able to tell you when we get our hands on one in the next few months - and just in time for the World Cup, as Sony points out.