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Microsoft demonstrates near-live audio translation through Skype

News by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday May 28, 2014.

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There are billions of people on Earth and thousands of different languages spoken between them, making it very difficult for all inhabitants to speak to each other. Microsoft has demonstrated a developing translation project that aims to make communication between speakers much easier. At the Code Conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated that his company has spent the past 15 years developing speech recognition, speech synthesis, and translation tools. Those projects have converged in an early alpha product called Skype Translator.

Skype Translator provides near real-time translation between two languages. In the demonstration, two Microsoft employees hosted a conversation with one speaking English and the other speaking German. When one person spoke a sentence, it was rapidly translated into the other person's language and spoken using text-to-speech engines. It's a three-step process of recognition, translation, and then recitation, so there's a pause after each statement.

Microsoft goes out of its way to say that this is just an early stage demonstration, so don't expect to suddenly speak new languages with foreign businessmen or pen pals tomorrow. The goal is to decrease the time it takes so it can achieve the goal of Star Trek Universal Translator, and the technology is not "a galaxy away" as some might believe. While this demonstration is strictly for Skype on a PC, Nadella has been adamant that Microsoft needs to be a cloud and mobile first company. If Microsoft manages to refine Skype Translator into a consumer-ready product, you can bet it will be one that works on Skype for mobile devices as well.

A video of the demonstration can be viewed at the source link below.

source: Microsoft

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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