Skype can now translate text into 40 languages and speech into English and Spanish
Microsoft says Skype Translator will further its ambitions to break down geographic and linguistic barriers to communication by automatically translating text and speech into different languages.
The company is inviting users to sign up for a preview programme, which will start with 40 instant message languages and two spoken languages – Spanish and English.
The feature is the product of collaboration between Skype, Bing and Microsoft Research Lab, and some of the language recognition technology used also powers the voice-activated Cortana personal assistant on Windows Phone.
Skype Translator uses machine learning to improve its abilities, meaning the more it is used, the smarter it becomes. Microsoft has urged all those who sign up for the preview to state their language preferences so more tongues can be added in the future.
“Skype Translator is a great example of the benefit of Microsoft’s investment in research,” says the company. “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. Skype Translator is the most recent and visible example.
“This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world. Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users.”
Microsoft bought Skype for £5.1 billion in 2011 and replaced its consumer chat service Windows Live Messenger with its acquisition last year. Skype for Business is set to be released in the first half of 2015, replacing Microsoft’s Lync unified communications platform.
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