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16 Dec, 2014 18:43

Real-time Skype language translation now reality

Real-time Skype language translation now reality

Skype has gone all sci-fi on its users: the app has announced an upgrade offering real-time translation for users. No longer will we be “hindered by geography and language,” as Microsoft believes we’ve opened a new page in the future of communication.

Skype already seemed like a revolutionary idea to its millions of users – an app that allows for free video communication across thousands of miles. And now Skype is going further, as Microsoft intros the Spanish pilot for its live-translation feature, soon to be available in other languages.

"Today, we are excited to announce the first phase of the Skype Translator preview program," Gurdeep Pall, who works on the app, said, presenting the new feature on Big Blog on Monday.

The sign-up page to the free app leads you to more than 40 instant-messaging languages as well, at least if you’re using Windows 8.1 on your computer or phone.

The app already predicts it 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,” it wrote on Big Blog.

"One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate," Pall continued, describing the trial run where school kids were blown away by being able to communicate with each other instantly.

And the more the feature is used, the smarter it will get.

"Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets. 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 program will learn by recording conversations “in order to analyze scripts and train the system to better learn each language,” Mo Ladha and Chris Wendt of Microsoft explain. The calls made during the pilot will be anonymized and stored on Microsoft’s servers and contribute to the overall statistical model to improve the system word by word.

Microsoft announced a breakthrough in real-time voice translation back in May, making a reference to the cult series Star Trek and its famed “universal translator” that had aliens from distant worlds making treaties and starting war with each other.