Skype hopes to be the go to online chat application of the world as it hopes to make international connections easier. They are introducing a new feature that automatically translates conversations almost in real time. It may be a bit awkward but the idea is certainly great.
Microsoft revealed the new technology at the Code technology conference where Skype Vice President Gurdeep Pall made some small talk in English with a German-speaking Skype manager in Europe.
The image you see to the left has Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sitting down to talk with Re/code’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.
The near real time translation works like this: after speaking a sentence in English, an automated voice translates the words into German. You can see from the video sample below.
It is important to know though that the technology is far from perfect but it is breaking new ground in terms of breaking the language barrier. When people think of real time translations, they think of something similar to the universal translator that was used in Star Trek to speak to alien life forms. The current technology is built on the still-tenuous foundations of speech recognition and machine translations so it is far from being 100% accurate.
The demo also showed the accuracy of the translations and even if it is still far from perfect, you can piece two and two together to get the gist of the conversation.
Pall: ?So what brings you to the United States, in addition to of course helping me with this demo??
The translated response was: ?I have many meetings with my colleagues in Redmond and I take the opportunity to see her fianc? my.?
Some German-speaking members of the audience thought that the translation wasn?t so good but they generally understood the essence of it.
There will be a lot of things to sort out but this is a significant upgrade for Skype. The mere idea of breaking the language barrier is exciting enough. Skype currently has around 300 million monthly active users around the world, and this could not only build personal relationships but businesses as well.
This new feature will also make the competition step up their game as it may force other tech giants like Google and Apple to make their own versions of real time translations.
Photo Source: Microsoft blog
Also read: Skype group video call now available for free here.