When the military goes to a foreign country, because of war or just to help, they need to speak the language. And training troops on a large scale is expensive and in most cases impractical. So they needed a solution, and like many others, they found it in science fiction.

DARPA has announced a new research initiative called BOLT, or Broad Operational Language Translation. A device that can speak many languages and think for it's self. It's a step beyond hand held devices that now only do phrases and words. It would also do visual and tactile inputs to allow the device a greater degree of understanding and response.

The military has tried many different devices and found most of them lacking. They don't give the soldiers the ability to have complex conversations that can help in building a relationship and give a sense of understanding to the scope of the situation or conversation. Most times, these devices make talking awkward.

While I don't think they are planning on making it look like Threepio, I think it's cool that we can take a gadget or device from a Sci-Fi movie or TV show, and make it a real thing to use. I think having my own protocol droid would be kind of cool. Give me an astro mech like R2-D2 and "Nerdvana" would be complete for me.