The new guy running Microsoft just might make the software giant cool again. Ripped straight from the pages of science fiction, imagine having a Skype conversation with real time translation into the language of your foreign interlocutor. Or how about Microsoft launches a Google Glass-like product with this translation tool built in for face to face conversations? Yet again, Star Trek technology is becoming a reality (think of the Universal Translator). The Verge discusses CEO Satya Nadella’s announcement:
Microsoft’s Skype will eventually be able to translate voice calls between people. In an on-stage demo at the Code conference today, 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 it, you can talk in your native language to another user who speaks a different language, and Microsoft will translate it to the other person.
“Ever since we started to speak, we wanted to cross the language boundary,” Nadella said before showing off a development version of the software, which will be out in beta later this year and possibly as a commercial product within the next two-and-a-half years. The feature may not come free, Nadella added, but is already good enough to work between English to German, with plans to get it working with a number of other languages.
In a follow-up post, Gurdeep Pall — Microsoft’s VP of Skype and Lync — said Skype Translator will arrive first as a beta app for Windows 8 by the end of this year. Nadella says the company’s eventual goal is to get it on all devices, big or small.
On the Microsoft Research site, the company said it’s been working on machine translation for more than a decade, and that translating voice over Skype was “considered a nearly impossible task.” However, four years ago the program got a jumpstart with a project that was able to translate phone calls in real-time. A separate project improved speech recognition accuracy, Microsoft said. That eventually bolstered improve other services that listen to human voices, like Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant for Windows Phone…
[continues at The Verge]