Microsoft demos real-time language translation for Skype chats
Microsoft took to the stage at the inaugural Code Conference (#CodeCon) yesterday evening to show off a ‘Universal Translator’ style technology it has developed. The breakthrough allows “humans to bridge geographic and language boundaries to connect mind to mind and heart to heart in ways never before possible,” as the language barrier is removed.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussed the new capability, which will be added to Skype, with @karaswisher and @waltmossberg. This was the first public demonstration of Microsoft’s real-time translation technique which is expected to go prime-time “in the very near future”.
Skype Translator is the product name and it will help the messaging service, with over 300 million active users each month, break down conversational barriers. The demo was conducted by Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft corporate vice president of Skype and Lync, and ‘Diana’ from Germany. According to the Microsoft Blog attendees witnessed near-real-time translation in a conversation between an English and German speaker. See the video below!
This translation ability is the result of over a decade of speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technology research. Microsoft Translator, behind the Skype service demonstrated uses neural network-based speech recognition.
Coming to Windows 8 before the end of 2014
Microsoft likened its newly revealed Skype Translator to “the Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator” – but added that the implementation of the technology for end users “isn’t a galaxy away”. We are told that Skype Translator will be made available in beta form for Windows 8 before end of 2014.
We don’t know what languages will be supported at launch and users will probably have to speak slowly and deliberately, as shown in the video above, to get good results but I am very enthusiastic about this language barrier breaker.