Voice translators aren’t anything new but implementing them automatically over video chat is a neat and interesting way to use it.
It feels one step closer to that automatic translation thing they have in Star Trek.
It’s not perfect, but it gives a much better understanding of what the other person is saying if it’s a language you don’t speak.
We can expect of course that things will get lost in translation and could have varying consequences. If you can imagine that it’s bad enough sometimes to have either voice to text getting things wrong, or an online translator getting things wrong, let alone combining the two to get a whole massive heap of confusion. So there’s quite a challenge for Microsoft to tackle. For one thing, it does show what the original language is in text to so you could at least see if it’s trying to translate the wrong phrase.
For the most part, the demo works well. They don’t have to talk completely unnaturally, though it does help anyway to speak more slowly and clearly when speaking to people in different languages. It might even be a useful way of learning to speak a different language.
What’s impressive is how you can speak long strings of text and it will pick it up. When we have people-translators for patients, they speak a few words at a time (granted, having a translator for medical reasons is highly important to get things precise)
As well as producing a translated text version, it also speaks the translated text.
Sign up at Skype:
The Skype Translator Preview will support a few languages at first and will initially be on devices running Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 Technical Preview only.
Participation in the preview will be confirmed depending on: the date you registered; the devices you selected; the availability of selected languages; and registration code (if you have one).
If you’re selected, we’ll send you an email with everything you need to download and use the preview of Skype Translator. In the meantime, learn more about the science behind Skype Translator.
Microsoft Research shows the science behind this. It’s not difficult to see how this could be implemented (if not already) into Cortana.