Microsoft has launched the first phase of its Skype Translator preview program for Windows 8.1 users, along with people who have installed the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Those folks who have signed up for the preview can download an app that is designed to translate both written and spoken languages in real time. Skype Translator was first announced in May.
The preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages,” Skype team posted on its blog. “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.”
Skype says the Translator’s machine learning protocols “train and optimize speech recognition (SR) and automatic machine translation (MT) tasks” and act “as the glue that holds these elements together.”
Skype also described how it had two schools try Skype Translator – Peterson School in Mexico City (Spanish) and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, USA (English) – and play a game of ‘Mystery Skype’ in which the children ask questions to determine the location of the other school. Check out the video below to see how Skype Translator helped break down the language barrier.
“This ‘glue’ transforms the recognized text to facilitate translation. This process includes the removal of disfluencies (i.e. ‘ahs’ and ‘umms’ as well as re-phrasings), division of the text into sentences, as well as addition of punctuation and capitalization.”
Skype’s latest version for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview can be downloaded here.