May 29, 2014 2:57 pm

Microsoft demos real-time ‘Skype Translate’ tool

During the demonstration Gurdeep Pall, vice president of Skype at Microsoft, participated in a video chat with a German speaking colleague.

Screenshot/Re-Code

TORONTO – Microsoft has unveiled a language tool that has the potential to break language barriers between Skype users – an app that translates users’ conversations in real time.

The tool can literally translate each side of users’ verbal conversation as they speak.

“It’s going to make sure you can communicate to anybody without language barriers,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

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The pre-beta app called “Skype Translate” was demonstrated this week during the Code Conference in San Francisco. During the demonstration, Gurdeep Pall, vice president of Skype at Microsoft, participated in a video chat with a German-speaking colleague.

Watch the demonstration here

Aside from a few errors, the app successfully translated English to German, and vice versa, as the two spoke.

Skype Translate uses Microsoft Translator and neural network-based speech recognition to operate, and according to Nadella the technology is intuitive.

“Say 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 – it gets good at Spanish, but it gets great at both Mandarin and English,” said Nadella during the demonstration.

“Quite frankly, none of us know exactly why; its brain-like in the sense of its capability to learn.”

Skype has over 300 million active monthly users across the globe.

The company plans to release Skype Translator as a Windows 8 beta app by year’s end.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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