Microsoft’s Skype has been in the news for quite some time and for all the right reasons too. Skype launched their ambitious product Skype Qik few months back and it has now launched Skype Translator. When Skype first announced about the Translator back in May, we thought it to be like one of those Star Trek Universal translator or Babel Fish. But this technology, Skype says has been for years and it has just not been assembled into a single unit. Skype had that vision and it looks like it has finally paid off.
Skype Translator brings speech recognition, automated translation, and machine learning, into one program. Skype rolled out the “first phase” of Translator, a beta version of Skype Translator’s live speech translating feature (between Spanish and English for now) and text translation for more than 40 languages.
The ability of automated translation was only possible for humans, but Skype Translator is said to have done that and carried it forward. Or not? In Skype Translator, a user is given a live translation on the right as he/she is speaking, both in native language and whatever language the other caller is speaking. If you imagine the Skype conversations you have had with your friends or business associates. For the tool to function properly, there is some mental conditioning required. The first and foremost is that you have to speak slowly. The speech recognition is quite good and fast too, but once the speed is increased the accuracy decreases.
In Skype Translator, you need to make pauses when you are speaking. If you are the kind of person who fumbles a lot or does “umm” a lot, then Skype Translator will make you pay. ( Well, not literally but it will be very slow to translate the sentence and it feels like hell).
The Skype Translator will start your voice call with an audio translation on, after every sentence is translated, your avatar will pop up and just read what was just basically translated sentence and read what was translated. You can just turn this feature off and it will automatically turn it off for the other person as well and just focus on reading the transcripts.
Once you get used to working on the Skype Translator, then it is really amazing. The speech recognition feature is the foundation of translation work. It has to be perfect, in order for the Skype Translator to function properly. Microsoft reports that headphones with good microphone will give you the best results and it is true.
Again Skype Translator is not human, so one cannot expect human traits from this Microsoft’s tool. For example, if you and your friend are having a Skype call and discussing a mutual friend by a certain nickname, Skype Translator will not be able to catch that. It will not even understand most of the innuendos.
The beta version of Translator really feels like a language assistant rather than being a genuine translator. According to people who laid hands on the Translator, if a Spanish speaker with no English background tried to break down Skype’s rendition of his beautiful prose, they would have a tough time understanding it.
What this means is that, if you have a basic understanding of a foreign language and know level 1 grammar, this Translator from Skype will help you out. You will understand what the other person is trying to say, no matter you will know what the other person means and would be able to correct minor errors.
Thus, Skype translator recognises your voice, corrects it for any stuttering, translates and then delivers it to the other person in a split second, which is fascinating. This is basically how Skype Translator works and in case if we missed out any recent updates from Microsoft, do not hesitate to mention it in the comments below.