Skype has just launched its Skype Translator preview program, which looks to break down language barriers via software.
The tool is Skype’s first foray into real-time voice-translation i.e. having bilingual conversation translated immediately.
For now, the tool is limited to just Spanish and English – not a bad choice, since the languages rank second and third for native speakers worldwide respectively and share Latin roots.
Mandarin takes top spot, but translating to an eastern language is a far more difficult affair.
To demonstrate the new software, Skype showed a video of a game of ‘Mystery Skype’ between two classrooms – Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, USA, and Peterson School in Mexico City – and had language-incompatible children guess where the other classroom was based.
The software appeared to work very well, with conversation seeming relatively fluid and coherent.
Skype opened up a registration process for Skype Translator earlier this year, and successful candidates will now be free to download the tool pending thumbs-up from the Microsoft-owned firm.
The translator works with machine learning, which means that the software will get smarter as it’s used more and more.
Skype also says it wants to add more languages to the roster in the future, although there’s not a clear timeframe yet.
“This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world,” said Gurdeep Pall, Corporate VP at Microsoft.
“Our long-term goal for speech translation is to 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.”
Skype Translator also enables text translation, and boasts upwards of 40 instant-messaging friendly languages.
Check out the 'Mystery Skype' game below:
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