Skype introduces real-time translation software
A new piece of software from Skype offers real-time translation during a video phone call. Right now, the software can only translate between Spanish and English, but the technology will spread to encompass other languages in the near future.
The Skype Translator App is currently available in a preview form for Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Technical Preview, according to Discovery News. In the video below, the software is used to connect two classrooms filled with students that speak different languages, but it could work in almost any situation.
“Skype Translator is the result of decades of research in speech recognition, automated translation, and general machine learning technologies, combined with an intense focus on the user experience,” a recent blog post from Skype states.
The software is complex in design, but simple in theory. One person speaks into a standard microphone, just like any Skype call. The software then translates the audio into the other language, displays the translated text on the screen through IM, and has a synthesized voice read the translated text to the receiver. So an English speak will say “hello” to a Spanish speaker, the words “hola” will be displayed, and both will hear a voice saying the same.
“Language is a wild beast. It changes all the time, it comes in many flavors and varieties, and there is a surprisingly huge difference between how people write language and how they speak it,” the official post states. “To provide the best experience, we had to overcome several language challenges.”
The translator uses speech recognition software that continues to grow. Once a user speaks into their microphone, it then sends the audio to Skype’s servers, which analyze and translate it. The software is also programmed to cut out pauses and verbal breaks like “umms” and “ahs.” It can also recognize and accept regional and national colloquialisms, and slang. There will likely be some issues along the way, but like any good software, it will learn and expand.
Skype isn’t the first company to introduce translation software, but it may be the most sophisticated and easiest to use. There are programs on smartphones, for example, that can translate most basic phrases into text, but full conversation is beyond it. The Skype software currently on translates and voices Spanish and English conversations at the moment, it can accept around 40 different languages and translate the audio into IM.
You can try the software out yourself, just sign up here.