Skype’s new update is now live and getting a lot of positive feedback. Known as Skype Translator, this service has the ability to provide real-time audio as well as text translation between 40 languages, to include English and Spanish.
Universal language translation is not new but thanks to modern technology, now far better than anyone could have imagined. In its preview, Skype Translator showed a video of school-aged children in the United States and Mexico having real-time conversations in their own languages.
What makes this particular translation service so great is that it offers not just real time speech but also written communication. With this, individuals who speak in dramatically different languages have the opportunity to converse quickly and easily.
Currently, the service is capable of handling almost real-time audio translation between English and Spanish coupled with text translation for over 40 additional languages.
With this service, sentences spoken English or Spanish is converted to text. This is then displayed along with the translation next to the video stream in a sidebar. The translated text is then read out loud by a computerized voice. One note is that between each conversation fragment there is a very slight delay.
Microsoft provided the preview video, which was a best case scenario as far as speech recognition and translation being accurate. However, the machine used by Skype Translator is always learning and as such, its ability to convert text to speech will improve over time. Every time the machine hears a word, it becomes more accurate and has the ability to use it in the proper way.
As shown in the preview video, the students were using basic vocabulary and sentence structure but again, as Skype Translator is used, more complex words and sentences will be translated correctly. In addition to this, Microsoft has been trying to make the service capable of handling only partial sentences, as well as scenarios where one person interrupts another person’s words.
Microsoft agrees that Skype Translation still has a ways to go before it will be able to understand all the different aspects of language but it is still well aware of anything else like it being offered.
Lancy Ulanoff who works for Mashable said the service works amazingly well. He added that translation is performed almost instantly and at this time, it is roughly 90% accurate. In fact, he noticed that when he typed things like “um”, they were removed from the written and spoken translation.
Microsoft anticipates that the data the machine gathers from the first wave of users will help improve overall accuracy and help it adjust to different verbal habits and accents.
At this time, the sign-up page is still up although there is no promise everyone will get immediate access. In addition to its availability on Windows 8.1 and 10, it works on mobile applications with the same operating systems.