For more than a decade, Skype has been breaking down geographical barriers to make every day audio and video communications possible. As we enter an era in which computing experiences need to be more personal, Skype has looked at ways to help communities create stronger connections and be more productive. Using innovations from Microsoft Research, Skype is now removing another barrier to make it possible for people to communicate irrespective of what language they speak.
Today, we are excited to announce the first phase of the Skype Translator preview program. The preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device.
Skype brings people together to make progress on what matters to them. Skype Translator will open up endless possibilities for people around the world to connect, communicate and collaborate; people will no longer be hindered by geography and language.
We asked two schools to try Skype Translator – Peterson School in Mexico City, and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, USA – playing a game of ‘Mystery Skype’ in which the children ask questions to determine the location of the other school. One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate – the video shows their wonderful reactions.
Skype Translator is a great example of the benefit of Microsoft’s investment in 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. Skype Translator is the most recent and visible example.
Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets. We are starting with English and Spanish, and as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve. We also need your help to expedite new language releases. So make sure you sign up, let your language preferences be known and get involved!
This is just the beginning of a journey that will transform the way we communicate with people around the world. Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each individual platform for our more than 300 million connected users.
We are so excited to kick off the preview program and hope that you’ll sign-up today to be part of this new chapter in communication. To get started, please visit the Skype Translator sign-up page!