Skype Real-Time Translator Preview Goes Live

Microsoft on Monday made available the first public preview of Skype Translator, its service for real-time language translation. The preview program will kick off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, according to Skype.

Additionally, more than 40 instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on their desktops or mobile devices. ItEUs also available to users with Windows 10 Technical Preview. Microsoft is expected to make it ultimately available across a wide variety of devices and operating systems over time

Microsoft announced Skype Translator last May, mentioning at the time that a public preview would be available this year. Microsoft has been working to deliver real-time language translation for at least two years. The new service translates conversations both ways in near real-time. The service will display on-screen transcripts of calls, and will ultimately translate instant-message chats in more than 45 languages.

Machine Learning

"Skype Translator is a great example of the benefit of MicrosoftEUs investment in research," Skype said in a blog post. "WeEUve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now theyEUre emerging as important components in this more personal computing era. Skype Translator is the most recent and visible example."

The translator application uses machine learning, which means the more the technology is used, the more it improves. Skype said it expects the quality of the English and Spanish translations to advance as more people use the Skype Translator preview with the two languages.

Skype TranslatorEUs machine learning protocols train and optimize speech recognition and automatic machine translation tasks. Those elements transform the recognized text to facilitate translation. This process includes the removal of disfluencies ("ahs," umms," and so on), the division of the text into sentences,...

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