In late 2015, Microsoft started to integrate its Skype Translator technology directly into Skype. The first versions to be integrated are the desktop version of Skype for Windows 7, 8 and 10 on PCs. Once the translation capability is added, users will see real-time translation icons for audio and video calls. Instant-message conversations will also be seen. Fifty languages will be supported for Instant Message translation at its launch. For audio and video calls, languages will be English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese (Mandarin).
Skype Translator is a speech-to-speech translation application. It was built on developments in Microsoft Translator’s statistical machine translation technology, and deep neural networks for speech recognition. When users converse in their native languages, Skype Translator translates their speech from one language to the other in near real-time. Users hear the output translation presented by computer-generated speech synthesis. The app also features on-screen text transcripts in their original language along with the translation.
Do you remember the universal translator, the small device common to science fiction movies and series? The universal translator’s purpose is to offer an instant translation of alien languages. Now, we seem to face this technology as a few companies are striving to develop a practical universal translator for our use. In fact, a universal translator seems unlikely in the near future. However, scientists continue to work towards real-world technologies involving known languages. These technologies are supposed to assure speech recognition, machine translation, and speech synthesis.
Certainly, we will not use telepathy for translation any time soon, as they do it in Doctor Who. Neither will translator microbes come to help, as on the TV show Farscape. (The microbes colonize the host’s brain stem. They translate anything spoken to the host, passing along the translated information to the host’s brain).
Now, Google has announced that it is developing a translator. Its app will use a voice recognition system and a database. It will recite the translation in the desired language in a robotic voice.
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