Imagine being able to speak in one language and having your message instantly translated grammatically and semantically correct in another language.
We’ve all seen this scenario in Star Trek and countless other science fiction movies where even Martians are able to speak English, however Microsoft Corp. said it is in the verge releasing a real-time translator for its voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) service Skype.
Microsoft has been experimenting on different ways to bring this about for the last 10 years and now it says its Skype Translator is expected to be released sometime this year. It works just like your normal Skype call, but the people on each end of the line don’t have to speak the same language to understand each other.
Skype Translator will be available as a Windows 8 beta app before the end of 2014, according to a recent blog post by Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync.
For more than a decade now, Skype has connected more than 300 million users across the globe and has facilitated more than two billion minutes of conversations by bringing together voice and video communication across PCs, tablets, smartphones and TVs.
“But language barriers have been a blocker to productivity and human connection,” said Pall. “Skype Translator helps overcome this barrier.”
Of course, Microsoft is not the only company working on such a technology. For example, back in 2008 then Intel Corp. CEO Paul Otellini introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show a handheld device that was pasrty speech recognition, part language translator aside from being a camera and wireless Internet access device. Read more about it here
The joint efforts of the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams were demoed recently in a “near real-time audio translation” from English to German and vice-versa, Pall said which combined Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator and neural network-based speech recognition.
Pall said the technology opens up many possibilities for enhanced communications in business, education, diplomacy and multilingual families.