Microsoft is looking for volunteers to test-drive its newest version of Skype Translator, a video and text-based tool capable of translating and transcribing conversations into a small but growing list of languages in real-time.
Skype Translator has certainly come a long way. When former Microsoft Research head Rick Rashid first demonstrated the technology back in 2012, it was limited solely to text interactions. The latest version supports video, too, and uses a more sophisticated speech recognition process.
Unlike other voice-to-text translators that rely on human users to “train” the system to recognize speech patterns, Skype Translator employs artificial neural networks capable of gleaning patterns from data over time and adapting accordingly. The result is a smarter automated system with a wider range of vocabulary than other translator tools currently available. Microsoft is not afraid to admit the technology remains a work in progress, but seems confident that things will improve as more users get on board.
As of now, the trial is only available for those using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. What remains unclear at this point is how much the program will cost users, though rumors persist that the service will be subscription-based. Also missing at this point is a a definitive list of supported languages, though the the registration page lists include Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish for now.
You can sign up for the free trial here.
Photo Credit: Skype