Not content with enabling free, cross-continental video conversations, Microsoft has now moved to break down language barriers and make conversing with our international friends even more convenient. The company has unveiled Skype Translator, an application for its chat software that translates speech between different languages in (almost) real time.
According to Microsoft, the technology has been some time in the making, its researchers working to overcome the nuances of different dialects and inconsistencies in speech over a number of years.
“It’s not just repeating a single word,” says head of Microsoft’s Machine Translation Team, Arul Menezes. “Sometimes, you’ll go three words into a sentence and then back up and restate it. In some languages, it’s more of a challenge than others, especially languages like Spanish, where words have to agree in grammatical gender.”
Though not perfect, Microsoft feels it has made sufficient progress to offer a beta version of Skype Translator to Windows 8 users later this year. While some have broken minor ground in this area before, with 300 million people logging into Skype each month Microsoft is set to find out pretty quickly whether its translator can speak to its users scattered all around the globe.