Imagine a world where you can talk to anyone from anywhere and still understand each other even though you’re speaking in different languages. Microsoft’s Skype aims to break the language barrier through Skype Translator, which they claim to be semantically and grammatically correct and can be used in real time.

Skype already processes over 2 billion minutes of conversation in a day, and with this new technology even more new connections can be made. This can only mean new possibilities and more opportunities on a global level. Developed over more than a decade, Skype Translator is still being fine-tuned by developers to become the ultimate universal translator. Nevertheless, its release as a Windows 8 beta app is set to be by the end of the 2014.

How does this technology work?

Using deep neural networks, which are said to be more accurate when it comes to acoustic modeling in speech recognition, Skype Translator operates through the combination of audio and messaging technology. The software will translate voice messages and will then pop out translated text and voice-over audio. It’s kind of like having subtitled conversations in a way, operating on a near real-time capacity.

Let’s say you speak French the person you’re Skype-ing with speaks English. The person you are talking to will hear you speak in French, to be followed by a translated version of what you just said in English through speech and text.

With media this rich, where you can hear the person’s tone of voice and see their facial expressions at the same time, this technology will cross cultural boundaries and make communicating with other nationalities easier and more accessible. Some are already saying that this technology might even change the world ā€“ and if it shows that it can do all that it says it can, then it very well could.

18 Comments
  1. Communication is so important. This is definitely a game changer. I would love to see how it holds up to American slang and translates different dialects and such things of that nature. It will be such a huge help, for people, even in the same room, to have that kind of tool in their hands.

  2. Wow I cannot believe this is going to be available, I am a little skeptical though, voice recognition has enough problems accurately writing what is said. Now they will translate too? hmm

  3. I hope it does work. I can not count the amount of times I’ve tried talking to some Asian country or elsewhere where there are significant grammatical differences only to have it come out as gibberish. If Microsoft can overcome this and make the perfect instant translator, then Skype will officially become my favourite way to chat.

  4. Cool! But one thing is, how fast is this? I mean sure it’s real time but how fast is the delay because I’m sure there’s got to be a delay here. But still, this is a pretty useful tool especially for those people doing business online.

  5. Cool but how accurate is this? I mean, if Google translate is having a lot of trouble translating a written sentence properly I doubt this would be that accurate. But I think I’ll keep my judgment later, but still this is a pretty sweet thing to happen in the world of communication.

  6. This is a great feature for Skype to have. I think that more video chat apps should have this. It gives people the opportunity to understand what others are saying even if it’s in a different language, you will never know the difference. Being able to communicate with others all across the country is amazing.

  7. Interesting, face recognition is definitely a great feature for an accurate interpretation of another language. It is often the case where something may mean entirely different depending on the persons attitude or mood. I wonder how well this will pan out. It is a fantastic feature that I look forward to.

  8. Well, if it works, it will be one of the hottest apps ever, and an important achievement in history. There would be no language barrier anymore. I wish there would be a version of the app, that I could use when I travel, and talk to any foreigner effortlessly. But translating a language with the exact meaning, considering that every phrase and sentence in a language may have a different structure, is doubtful. There could be slight variations, slight mistakes and different dialects, which could lead to confusion and misunderstanding. But I wish I could be amazed by it if it actually works.

  9. This is a great idea. I would love to try it out. I use skype for international calls myself. I can’t really afford to do it any other way. Businesses and individuals alike could benefit fro a service like this.

    • I didn’t think about the business aspects, but I completely agree that this could be a huge benefit for business. I can imagine that there’s some pretty huge language barriers for international businesses, so the ability to essentially talk to co-workers overseas would be amazing, if it translates accurately and correctly. That said, I’m not sure how suitable Skype is for business usage – it seems very setup for home usage, and doesn’t have any essential features such as domain administration.

  10. That’s amazing! Though, if I’m not mistaken, QQ international has something similar to this in the works? Regardless, because Skype is so much more widely used, I don’t doubt that this’ll change the way people view online relationships, whether they be platonic or otherwise. I can also see this, with further testing and working, becoming something important to international business!

    I just hope it doesn’t push people away from actually learning languages themselves.

  11. While the concept is definitely a very nice and interesting idea, I doubt that it’ll work as well as it’s being made out to. Just look at Google translate – that’s known for being one of the best online translators, and even that’s not very good at translating to most languages, especially regarding grammar. Add a speech recognition aspect to that, and you’ve got a translation about as accurate as YouTube captions.

    I wish I’m wrong, but I doubt I am in this case.

  12. All I can say is that it’s a terrific story. A world without strangers, and a world without strange languages. You start with two people in the conversation, followed by a Skype Translator. This time Skype is aiming to hook us at 100 percent.

    • Let’s see how well Skype advances in this attempt. If they succeed it will be a wide bonanza for conversations from person to person. Most likely positioning themselves as industry leader for their niche.

      On the other hand, I know that voice recognition in real time is not entirely right in the practical sense. We really need something revolutionary in the field.

  13. Hearing about this actually makes me excited. Not only are language barriers broken down, but now interviews with international celebrities or well-known figures will become easier and more accessible to a wider array of people. What’d be even more amazing is if the processing could be done on board, but I know that it wouldn’t practical at all.

  14. This seems AMAZING if it truly works well. I can definitely see how this would be very hard to pull off.

    I would love to try this out with friends from other countries and it’d be great for people that do not actually speak english.

    Come on, skype, don’t mess this up! šŸ˜€

  15. This is a concept, and very far away from an actual working and accurate prototype. It would certainly bring more connectivity to other cultures if it does what it does and breaks the speech barrier. It would also put a lot of people out of work.

  16. Hello! Thank you for your article. Iā€™d like to try to compare it to my previous experience of learning Italian lessons through Skype on online classes for free. I did around 10 conversations over Skype with a native speaker from http://preply.com/en/italian-by-skype. And I was pretty satisfied with their Quality. I think they have a strong teaching quality.Following their course curriculum now I can speak Italian like a native , but I Want to try another option.

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