Have you ever wanted to talk to someone across the world but couldn’t due to a language barrier? Well here’s your chance to communicate with a colleague in their native language without having to learn it yourself. Introduced at the Code Conference last night, Microsoft unveiled it’s current project, Skype Translator, which will allow people to chat in real-time with one-another in different languages by providing voice and text language translation.
For more than a decade, Skype has brought people together to make progress on what matters to them. Today, we have more than 300 million connected users each month, and more than 2 billion minutes of conversation a day as Skype breaks down communications barriers by delivering voice and video across a number of devices, from PCs and tablets, to smartphones and TVs. But language barriers have been a blocker to productivity and human connection; Skype Translator helps us overcome this barrier.
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Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella showed off Skype Translator, an upcoming version of the service that is capable of translating voice conversation in “near real-time” using technology developed by the company’s Skype and Translator teams. With Skype Translator, you can talk in your native language to another user who speaks a different language, and Microsoft will translate it to the other person.
At the conference, Vice President of Skype Gurdeep Pall performed a live demo of Skype Translator via Skype video call with a German colleague.
How It Works
When speaking with someone who speaks a different language, Skype Translator adds the other person’s translations for you in subtitle format at the bottom of the screen along with an automated voice translation. It’s not an immediate translation though; you’ll have to wait until the person is finished speaking before the program begins translating.
Say you teach it English. It learns English. Then you teach it Mandarin. It learns Mandarin, but it becomes better at English. And then you teach it Spanish. It gets good at Spanish, but it gets great at both Mandarin and English — and, quite frankly, none of us know exactly why.
It’s brain-like in the sense of its capability to learn. It’s magical.
When Will It Be Available to the Public
According to Pall, Skype Translator first will be available as a Windows 8 beta app before the end of 2014. But “the feature may not come free,” added Nadella. The service will be available on all devices that run Skype. The company isn’t committing to specific language support yet, but it likely will be a matter of which ones Skype is able to do the best at launch.
A product like this will revolutionize the way we communicate with one-another, making it easier to make long-lasting connections across the globe. But how will it affect the way we humans learn and use second languages?
What’s your opinion on this Star Trek-like technology? Do you think it will eliminate the need or importance of learning a second language? Let me know what you think in the comments below! And be sure to join in on other discussions here.