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Skype's amazing Translator goes live

Barry Collins
16 Dec 2014
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Skype translates English into Spanish as you talk

Skype has released its much anticipated Translator, providing live translation between English and Spanish for video callers. Skype has been previewing the app for the past few months, but has finally made it live for users running Windows 8.1 or the Windows 10 Preview.

The cloud-based service provides on-the-fly translation of both voice and instant messaging conversations. When, say, the English speaker has completed a sentence, the software automatically translates what they said as both audio and text for the Spanish speaker, and vice versa.

"Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets," says Gurdeep Pall, a corporate vice president at Microsoft. "We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve. We also need your help to expedite new language releases."

The company says it has plans to integrate Translator into more products as the software evolves. "This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world," says Pall. "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 has been pushing Translator as a tool that could find a home in the classroom, even testing the software with young students in schools in Seattle and Mexico. Although the demonstration video (embedded below) is doubtless carefully edited, live translation of children's voices is particularly impressive, as voice recognition software often struggles to transcribe kids' speech. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated the software live on stage earlier this year, that time providing a live translation between English and German speakers.

Skype users interested in trialling Translator are invited to sign-up here.

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