Microsoft added a new dimension to internet phone service Skype with its real-time language translator to enhance international communications. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, quoting it was a dream of humanity and an effort to cross the language boundary; he unveiled the real-time language translator at Code technology conference, California on 27th May 2014. A demo of Skype’s vice president Gurdeep Pall talking in English with a German-speaking Skype manager in Europe manifested the real-time speech to speech translation.

World has turned to a global village and language barrier stands in the way of communication across global frontiers. With as vast as 300 million accounts on Skype and nearly one-third of international call traffic, it will be a boon for internet video calls and conferences.

The translator technology

The Skype translator has evolved through the use of deep neural network based speech recognition that dates back to a decade’s history of dedicated research by Microsoft Labs on speech recognition, automatic translation, and machine learning technologies. The Skype language translator starts typing the words when a speaker starts talking and then the words are translated into text in the receiver’s language which is then voice synthesized to the language opted by the receiver. Nevertheless, the company is yet to decide on the specific languages it would be supporting. The beta version is due to be available on all Skype devices by December 2014 with support of 40 languages.

Skype Translator has a great potential to enhance communication in the field of education, knowledge management, interstate ties and international business. It’s the year end that will unlock the features hidden in the Skype translator, and its value for the global community.

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