Well, if you ever watched scifi movies then you know of one of the first issues in communication with an alien species is language, infact we do not even need to go into space to have this issue – event though English has become sort of a universal language here on earth it can still be a problem to communicate with people from different countries, they may not know English or be very bad at it – so you are back to hand gestures and drawings. Now hand gestures and drawing may be great fun if you have ample time and the spirit is high, but in a pinch it’s not the best way to go.
If you have ever watched Star Trek you know they have this wonderful gadget – the Universal Translater – a contraption that translates alien languages in real time… Well, it’s no longer as far fetched as it sounds 😀 Skype to the rescue, Skype has been working on a near real time vocal translation addon to their popular communications software, and now they have something to show for it – it may still be in the very early stage but it’s a first step in the right direction. Links below to a narrative on this as well as a youtube clip.
Some other fun site on the same subject.