Microsoft released a working beta of Skype Translator on Monday that hopes to in the future translate numerous languages at real time via video conversation, rather than typed chat. The technology is an exciting moment for scientists.
As an article in PCWorld explains,
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.”
A major challenge for developers was designing the technology to be able to tell the difference between words that sound similar but mean different things (for example, their and they’re) and to filter for natural breaks in conversation, such as “uh.”
Skype Translator allows users to have a verbal conversation over video across languages, providing a computerized voice to deliver the translations to the other user. A transcript also appears on the sidebar next to the video chat window.
In a recent blog post, Skype stated,
Skype Translator is a great example of the benefit of Microsoft’s investment in research… We’ve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they’re emerging as important components in this more personal computing era. Skype Translator is the most recent and visible example.”
Currently, the preview enables English and Spanish for voice translation, but allows for up to 40 languages over Instant Message conversation. Currently it is unknown how many languages the voice translation is expected to be developed for. However, the current beta will allow developers to further refine the translations and perfect the user experience.
To sign up for the waiting list to test the Skype Translator beta, click here.
Read more here- “Skype Real-Time Translator Preview Goes Live,” (Dan Heilman, Top Tech News)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.