Microsoft's unveils real-time Skype translator

In future you wont need to speak the same language as friends on Skype

Microsoft has unveiled an automatic translator service for Skype that provides subtitles in real-time for a range of languages.

“It is going to make sure you can communicate to anyone without language barriers,” said CEO Satya Nadella at Code Conference in Los Angeles, where the “pre-beta” software was revealed.

The Redmond-based software company said that the new feature was the result of “decades of work” and would be launched as a trial for the internet-based phone service later this year.

Microsoft has not specified whether Skype Translate will be offered for free (as Skype is) or what languages will be available, although two demonstration videos made it clear that German and English had both been implemented.

Mark Gurman, a reporter at 9to5Mac who watched the live demo, reported that a German speaker in the audience rated the translation as “not so good” but “nice” overall.

"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," said Skype corporate vice president Grudeep Pall on Tuesday.

"It is early days for this technology, but the Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator isn't a galaxy away, and its potential is every bit as exciting as those Star Trek examples."

Both Microsoft and Google currently offer services that translate snippets of conversations, but neither has attempted to bring this functionality to whole conversations. However, Skype Translate still requires that users pause at the end of each exchange to let the translations appear.

Microsoft says that the new feature has been enabled by a computing method known as Deep Neural Networks that tries to mimic the brain’s capacity to learn.

Skype’s constant stream of conversations (the service currently handles more than three quarters of a trillion minutes of chat each year) could also offer an ideal testing ground for the new service, offering Microsoft vast amounts of data to help teach the software.

As well as the obvious benefits, Skype Translation might also be an important one-up over Microsoft’s rivals such as Google Hangouts, Apple’s Facetime and other free internet phone services like Viber.

The company’s acquisition of Skype in May 2011 for $8.5bn (£5.2bn) was its biggest ever, and it has since been integrated across a range of Microsoft products, from Windows Phone to Outlook and Xbox One.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test