The application was announced this week and demonstrated using a conversation between an English speaker and a German speaker. A video of the Skype Translator at work is available on Microsoft’s official blog.
In addition to helping break down language barriers between people of different nationalities, the application and its under-pinning technology also has the potential to break down barriers for people with disabilities.
For example, two people, one of whom is hearing impaired, could have a conversation using the application. The person who is hearing-impaired could have their typed text spoken to the other person, while that person’s speech would immediately be displayed as captioned text.
The technology, which is part of an emerging area of research referred to as machine translation, also underpins Microsoft’s Bing Translator. Bing Translator allows for text-to-text translation between more than 40 different languages – including Klingon, from the Star Trek series.
Skype Translator is expected to be available as a Windows 8 beta (early trial) application by the end of this year. The basic Skype video and messaging application is already available for many mobile devices and computers.
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