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Microsoft reveals real-time language translator for Skype calls

The feature allows users to speak to each other in their native language, which Skype then translates in real-time.

Image: Microsoft Research/YouTube

SKYPE HAS REVEALED a new real-time language translator feature which allows two people speaking different languages to communicate.

Skype Translator, which is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. allows you to talk in your native language to another user who speaks a different language.

Skype then automatically translates what the person said into the other person’s native language.

At the Code Conference in California, Microsoft demoed the technology by translating a video call from English to German and vice versa.

The technology is the result of more than a decade’s worth of work from the company’s research division, mainly achieved through a technique called Deep Neural Networks, which is patterned after human behaviour.

Source: MicrosoftResearch/YouTube

Speaking at the conference Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella said that one of the more fascinating developments from the project was its ability to learn a language, even when it was being taught another language.

The one fascinating feature of this is something called ‘transfer learning’ and what happens is you teach it English, it learns English. Then you teach it Mandarin, it learns Mandarin, but it becomes better at English. And then you teach it Spanish and it gets good at Spanish but it becomes great at both Mandarin and English, and quite frankly none of us know exactly why. It’s brain-like in the sense of its capabilities.

(Video: Microsoft)

The company plans to make the feature available as a Windows 8 app first before the end of the year. The company did not say when the feature would see an official release.

The service has more than 300 million monthly active users globally and sees more than one billion instant messaging sessions every month, according to Microsoft.

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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