Skype and Microsoft Research collaboration has resulted in major technological advancement in telecommunication.
Microsoft has recently made technology news by revealing a new translation service for the freemium VoIP (voice over IP) and messaging app Skype, which has the ability to identify spoken words and translate these words into a different language and, in almost real-time, speak back the translation.
After 15 years of research Microsoft intends to launch the new service by the end of the year.
Presently, Skype has an estimated 300 million monthly users who utilize its service via smartphones, tablets, computers and television. At the end of 2014, Skype Translator will be available for Windows 8. However, Microsoft also has the intention to make it available to other operating platforms in the future.
Skype’s corporate vice president, Gurdeep Singh Pall, said “Skype has always been about breaking down barriers. And the language barrier is huge. It has been a blocker to productivity and human connection.” He went on to say that “Skype Translator helps us overcome this barrier. It’s going to make sure you can communicate with anyone without language barriers.”
The technology was demonstrated by Pall in California at the Code conference. He held a three minute conversation with one of his German colleagues via a Skype video call. Pall spoke in English and his words were translated into German while his colleague spoke in German and Pall and the audience heard the German to English translation in almost real-time.
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There were a few mistakes during the conversation, but these were extremely minor compared to those that occurred when the service was first demonstrated two years ago, translating English to Chinese. This shows the technological improvements that have been made in such a short time.
Microsoft’s technology news could preserve Skype’s competitive edge.
Skype was acquired by Microsoft back in 2011 for $85 billion. Globally, Skype continues to be the most used video and voice chat. However, it has a lot of competition from other popular messaging services like WhatsApp, FaceTime and Hangouts. The translation feature could be what allows Skype to keep a leg up over its competitors.
It is likely that there will be more Skype-related technology news in the future as more advancement are made and because Microsoft has yet to announce if the new translator service will be free or not.