Voice Box

Despite the rarity of humans encountering non-humans in the known galaxy, the importance of such events merits very stringent guidelines to be followed. Proper translation is key to avoid interstellar incidents, and while regular organic (or at least sentient) translators continue to see widespread use a trend seeing extensive growth is the implementation of voice boxes. One advantage that these have over human translators is that they are able to converse in alien languages that would be impossible for human vocal cords to reproduce (or vice-versa for the aliens who are incapable of speaking human dialects).

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These are quite simply a micro-speaker/micro-phone assembly linked to a compact universal translation database, including sophisticated voice-recognition software, and a basic wireless connection to provide communication between boxes (or local networks). Though interfaces and wrist-comps can all easily serve the same function, the placement of the voice box around one's neck tends to give a more natural impression that the person is speaking.

Earlier generations would require the wearer to speak his message, wait for a translation and then have it be spoken in the visitor's language. Such exchanges were steady but slow, and left much to be desired. Some individuals willingly had microchips implanted into the speech centers of their brain to provide much more rapid communication, but these saw less popularity due to the invasive (and often permanent) procedure. Usually this was reserved for individuals who had to stay in foreign space and expected to use the alien dialect for months or years on end.

In the early 36th century engineers perfected a circuit that could recognized brainwave patterns related to speech in human (and eventually non-human) brains. By this method, a person can omit the oral expression of words entirely and speak through the artificial voice box directly. They were intentionally engineered to have a short range to prevent their use for invasive mind-reading, but despite this, there has been some militarization of the technology.