Tuesday - Sep 26, 2017

Skype to leap the language barrier with speech translation software

Skype to leap the language barrier with speech translation software

Showing his desire to make a positiveimpression at his first public experience,Microsoft recently appointed CEO Satya Nadella pulled a few white rabbits out of his hat at the recent Microsoft Build developer conference held in San Francisco, California.

Undoubtedly, one of the rabbits with the biggest ears was the news that Microsoft has taken major steps in overcoming the Tower of Babel with the news what the software giant proudly described as Iinstantaneous Speech Translation” will be available to international callers using Skype as early as the end of 2014.

To create as dramatic an effect as possible, the development team at Microsoft provided those in attendance with a real-time demonstration of the software, developed over the course of the last few years, and capable of rapidly translating voice calls between most major European languages. The demonstration, based around a short conversation from English to German, which came through loud and clear to the audience, completely clear, and, better still, with a remarkably short pause required for simultaneous translation to take place.

Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft’s vice-president of Skype was humble in victory going as far as to explain that while it is still very early days in the development of instantaneous speech translation technology, implying that there was still considerable room for improvement. However, unofficial reports have it that the arrival of a Universal Translator isn’t as far off into the future as many people imagine or Microsoft are prepared to admit to.

“Skype Translator opens up so many possibilities to make meaningful connections in ways you never could before in education, diplomacy, multilingual families and in business. Language barriers have been a blocker to productivity and human connection, with the Skype Translator well in line to help the world overcome this barrier,” Summed up Mr. Pall- but only in one language.

According to industry reports, a development version of Skype Translator will be available for beta testing towards the end of the year, with the commercial product certainly following up, although Microsoft has remained tightlipped as to exactly when.

Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that they have been developing machine translation software for many years, although they have only recently combined their research to taken speech recognition accuracy. The Cortana voice assistant, which was developed for Microsoft’s Windows Phone is known to already understand voice patterns.

Simultaneously, Microsoft have been heavily involved in the development of what is known as a “deep neural net” capable of recognising speech patterns as well as learn from them, a technology which has been a long-term goal for the company.

While Skype are facing strong competition in the development of speech translation software, particularly from Google and NTT DoCoMo, Microsoft are confident that they will be capable of dominating the market thanks to their vastly more significant subscribers, numbering in excess of than 300 million global users monthly, using the service for an average of 60 billion minutes each and every month.

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