Microsoft reveals universal translator

Microsoft has just revealed a universal voice translator that works in real time, allowing people to have fluid conversations in different languages. 

The new technology, called Skype Translator, was first revealed in 2012. Since then Microsoft have remained quiet, and as it turns out they’ve been spending this time making the software compatible with Skype, the online video calling service which they purchased in 2011 for $US8.5 billion. 

Skype Translator users will be able to make video calls, and have their messages translated to any language as soon as they finish speaking. Although this is not 100 per cent real time, this is as close it will ever get, due to the differences in syntax, grammar and structure between different languages. The software will be available in beta form towards the end of this year on Skype, however, Microsoft has not yet commented how it will be priced.

So what will this new technology mean for us?

The applications are nearly endless, but global business is perhaps the industry that will benefit the most. International web conferences will soon be able to take place without language barriers making international business much easier, particularly for small companies which don’t have the money for overseas travel or translators. This should create lots of ties and business relations with companies which have previously been restricted to mostly working with nations that speak the same language. 

Although Microsoft hasn’t mentioned any plans to take its translator outside of Skype, its unlikely that they won’t move it to different platforms. The most likely way in which they’ll utilize this technology is to create an app for Windows Phone which can record speech, translate it, and play it out loud. This will make travelling to foreign speaking countries a lot less stressful than it currently is.

Are you excited for Microsoft’s new babel fish technology? Are there any non-English speaking countries that you’ve wanted to visit but have held off due to the language barrier?

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