In the 2010 CeBIT's "future park", a concept "Silent Sound" Technology demonstrated which aims to notice every movement of the lips and transform them into sounds, which could help people who lose voices to speak, and allow people to make silent calls without bothering others.
The device, developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), uses electromyography, monitoring tiny muscular movements that occur when we speak and converting them into electrical pulses that can then be turned into speech, without a sound uttered.
The technology opens up a host of applications, from helping people who have lost their voice due to illness or accident to telling a trusted friend your PIN number over the phone without anyone eavesdropping -- assuming no lip-readers are around.
The technology can also turn you into an instant polyglot. Because the electrical pulses are universal, they can be immediately transformed into the language of the user's choice.
"Native speakers can silently utter a sentence in their language, and the receivers hear the translated sentence in their language. It appears as if the native speaker produced speech in a foreign language," said Wand.
The translation technology works for languages like English, French and German, but for languages like Chinese, where different tones can hold many different meanings, poses a problem, he added.
You could pass the time by making phone calls from the cinema without disturbing anyone. In noisy places like bars and clubs you could feasibly make yourself heard without having to shout. The technology would be particularly handy if you've been taken hostage but managed to work your bound hands free enough to retrieve your secret mobile, dial and get your face close enough for the technology to work.
The engineers have got the device working to 99 percent efficiency, so the mechanical voice at the other end of the phone gets one word in 100 wrong, explained Wand.
"But we're working to overcome the remaining technical difficulties. In five, maybe ten years, this will be usable, everyday technology," he said.