Kaitlin Yent – Skype has already changed the face of communications, offering free call, text and file sharing services to its hundreds of millions of users. With Skype available for smartphones, tablets, and computers, communication across continents is now at anyone’s fingertips—happy news to any expat or traveler who misses loved ones back home.
But Skype isn’t stopping there. Satya Nadella, new CEO to the Microsoft-owned company, has set his sights to further facilitating global communications by eliminating language barriers through the use of ground-breaking new software.
Skype translator was put on display in a conversation between Skype overseer Gurdeep Singh Pall and a German speaker on May 28. The users demonstrated the capabilities of both the speech and text translation.
Pall explained, “Skype is a very global product — it’s all about connecting people that are separated by distance. One of the biggest barriers that still remains is really the language barrier.”
The nature of the Skype offering requires several different areas to be addressed: speech recognition, machine text translation, and text-to-speech technology to relay everything back to the user. The software was developed by Microsoft, and relies on work by the Bing search unit which already has a web translation service.
Microsoft has said they are yet unsure how many languages will be included in the launch version of the application, but that they will certainly continue to add more as they improve the quality of the initial offering.
Set to be launched late 2014, Skype plans to offer the software as a stand-alone product before integrating it with the Skype application—making it available to all 300+ million global Skype users.
As reporter Rafat Ali said, “The world is moving closer to a vision of no language barriers—enabled by technology—and it will do wonders for increasing seamless travel around the globe.”