Microsoft launches Skype Translator with real-time English-Spanish translation
Microsoft’s ‘Star Trek’ Skype translator turns English into Spanish.
Language barriers be gone! MICROSOFT-OWNED Skype has announced the public availability of Skype Translator, the firm’s speech recognition software that can decode languages in real time with the help of intelligent translation technology.Skype, Microsoft’s videoconferencing platform, is moving a step closer to becoming a real-life “Star Trek” universal translator with its Skype Translator preview program. “(A)nd 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device,” Pall said in a blog post. “We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve. The service was first demonstrated in May, aping Star Trek’s universal translator or the Babel Fish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, translating a conversation between German and English. So make sure you sign up, let your language preferences be known and get involved!” he said. “One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate – the video shows their wonderful reactions,” he said.
With Skype Translator, you speak your native language on one end, and the software translates the dialogue instantly using a computerized voice on the other side of the call. Pall said Skype Translator is the fruit of Microsoft’s investments in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade. “Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users,” he said.
And, yes, several media outlets are drawing comparisons to the futuristic Universal Translator in “Star Trek” — and, we gotta say: the analogy is pretty dead on. It also requires a PC running either Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and requires an invitation; you can get on the list through Microsoft’s Skype Translator Website. A video below shows some school kids from America and Mexico using the software to communicate without the need to understand each other’s language. µ It can understand speech and then rapidly translate it into another language before using text-to-speech systems to speak the translation back to the user, or in this case the other party. Microsoft says it’s spent 10 years researching the technology, which relies on machine learning to tell the difference between words like “they’re” and “their,” and to eliminate fillers like “um” that come up in natural conversation.
Tech Crunch says, “This could be one of the most powerful technologies ever created, if it can live up to the hype, but the real test of its worth begins now.”
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