Microsoft’s Skype introduces real-time translation

16 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft’s Skype moves toward auto-translation.

“The preview program will kick off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English… Skype Translator will open up endless possibilities for people around the world to connect, communicate and collaborate; people will no longer be hindered by geography and language.” “One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate,” Pall said. “Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets.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.“Skype is now removing another barrier to make it possible for people to communicate irrespective of what language they speak,” announced Skype’s corporate vice president Gurdeep Pall on the company’s official blog.

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. 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. Still, the team noted that the feature is still in “preview mode” and operates by self-learning algorithms that will sort out its translation errors through continual use.

Why this matters: Having a computer translate conversation on the fly has been the stuff of sci-fi for years, but it’s notoriously difficult to pull off due to the stutters, pauses, slurring and slang that often come up in natural speech.

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