This Monday, Skype launched Skype Translator Preview – a beta version of the program that will allow its more than 300 million monthly users to converse with each other, regardless of whether they speak the same language. Currently, the Translator supports two spoken languages – Spanish and English, as well as 40+ instant messaging languages. A crude version of the German feature was also demoed earlier this year.
“People will no longer be hindered by geography and language,” announces Skype’s official blog and shows a video of two students – one in a classroom in Mexico City, speaking Spanish, the other in Tacoma, USA, speaking English – using the program to talk to each other and try to guess where they are located. Indeed, the technology opens exciting opportunities for learning and collaboration across the globe.
Skype Translator is very easy to use – the user simply selects the written and spoken language of the person he or she will be talking to, and from this moment on the program translates all messages, as well as speech, in near real-time. The users can follow the conversation through the audio translation or on the screen with a translated transcript.
Skype Translator relies on innovations in speech recognition, automatic translation, and language processing from Microsoft Research, that have been in development for more than a decade. Thanks to the program’s machine-learning algorithms, it will be constantly improving as it is being used. For now, the beta version is only available for Windows 8, but more supported languages and platforms are planned for the coming year, with Skype’s goal to eventually cover all languages and devices.
To be one of the first to test Skype Translator Preview – sign up here.