Will Star Trek's universal translator become one step closer to reality this year? At the Code Conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave a demonstration of a new Skype feature that promise to let you speak universally with anyone on the planet. Called Skype Translator, this service translates your and your contact's voice in nearly real-time. The translation is spoken by the computer when the other person is done speaking but you can also use subtitles.
Skype Translator will be launched before the end of 2014 as a Windows 8 beta app and eventually it will be released for all platforms already used by Skype. In the video demonstration you can see it tested in English and German but it's unclear which other languages will be supported at launch.
Skype Translator results from decades of work by the industry, years of work by our researchers, and now is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The demo showed near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa, combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition. Skype Translator is a great example of why Microsoft invests in basic research. We’ve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they’re emerging as important components in this more personal computing era. You can learn more about the research behind this initiative here.