Imagine being able to speak another language without having to learn it. Skype is making it possible.
Skype attempts to emulate the Universal Translator or Babel Fish, translating conversations between English and Spanish in real time
The Microsoft-owned chat service on Monday launched the first phase of its Skype Translator preview program first announced back in May. Jointly developed by Microsoft researchers and Skype engineers, the new feature uses real-time speech translation technologies to let you have a conversation with someone over the Internet who speaks a different language.
This means you can have a conversation just like normal, and Skype will translate what you say into the other person’s language in “near real-time.” Then, when the other person says something, it will be translated back to your language.It is now available as a free download for Windows 8.1, starting with spoken English and Spanish along with more than 40 text-based languages for instant messaging.
The Skype Translator project offers on-the-fly translation of both spoken and written languages for participants in Skype conversations, making it possible for two people who speak completely different languages to communicate with virtually no barriers to understanding.
The preview program starts with support for English and Spanish spoken translation, as well as over 40 languages for real-time text chat.The technology behind the translation involves advanced machine learning, which also means that it’ll get smarter with time and increased use; the more time it hears a word in conversation, the better it’ll become at translating it accurately.Plus it is so far offering 12 languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese) French, Italian, Korean, Russian, English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
“Skype Translator records conversations in order to analyse the scripts and train the system to better learn each language,” explained Mo Ladha and Chris Wendt, two of Microsoft’s research managers in a blog post. “Participants are all clearly notified as the call begins that their conversation will be recorded and used to improve the quality of Microsoft’s translation and voice recognition services.”
The calls are broken down into small snippets, anonymised and stored on Microsoft’s servers to feed into the statistical models that help improve word matching.Science fiction has long promised seamless translation between languages, removing barriers between nations and species. Skype Translator is the first piece of technology that begins to get close to a “universal translator”, although video calling is unlikely to help travellers on their holidays anytime soon.
How it works ?
Skype Translator gives you the ability to speak another language without learning one. Simply set up a Skype video or voice call with someone who speaks another language and start talking. Translator is currently available in English and Spanish. More languages are coming soon.
When you use Translator:
Your conversation is translated into another language in near real-time.
What someone else says is translated back in your language.
An on-screen transcript of your call is displayed.
And you can send instant messages across 40+ languages.
There are some restrictions. The technical preview will only be available on PCs or tablets running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview, although Microsoft promises to support Macs, iOS, and Android at some later point.
Help’s in Business with Non-Speaking English Countries
It helps in business with all non speaking English countries. “Skype Translator” through its innovative technology would facilitate video conferencing between two people speaking in different languages, changing the nature of communication across the globe
Such a path breaking technology,would transform human communication. This, he said, would break the language barriers for people across the globe and this increase productivity.
The live demonstration showed real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa.
In a country like India, which has over two dozen official languages and people speak several hundred languages, such a technology could come as a great tool of communication.
However, Indian-American Nadella, who speaks Telugu and comes from Andhra Pradesh, did not identify the languages in which the Skype Translator would be rolled out.
Such technologies are part of Microsoft’s effort to “empower everyone to do more and achieve more”.
Microsoft,is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud first world.