Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 15th Dec 2014 22:56 UTC

Microsoft's Skype software will start translating voice calls between people today. As part of a preview program, Skype Translator makes it possible for English and Spanish speakers to communicate in their native language, without having to learn a new one. It sounds like magic, but it's the result of years of work from Microsoft's research team and Skype to provide an early working copy of software that could help change the way the world communicates in the future.

Pretty cool. I don't speak Spanish, so I can't test just how good it is.

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Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Tue 16th Dec 2014 00:09 UTC
Member since:

Yet another Star Trek technology brought to life.

I mean, it's not quite universal, but still...

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by Kochise on Tue 16th Dec 2014 05:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
Kochise Member since:

Nope, BabelFish from HG.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Tue 16th Dec 2014 06:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Drumhellar"
Drumhellar Member since:

The Babelfish was an a fish, not a machine.

Plus, Star Trek had it first

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by Drumhellar
by Lobotomik on Tue 16th Dec 2014 11:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar"
Lobotomik Member since:

Yeah, they boldly went where no man had been before, only to find the place full of girls dressed like greeks with miniskirts :-)

Reply Score: 6

OffTopic, tinfoil hat
by robojerk on Tue 16th Dec 2014 02:05 UTC
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I assume these providers also transcribe all conversations into a database, and copy your conversations to a low quality sound file.

You know terrorism..

Reply Score: 10

RE: OffTopic, tinfoil hat
by dvhh on Tue 16th Dec 2014 02:50 UTC in reply to "OffTopic, tinfoil hat"
dvhh Member since:

I came here for this comment ;) .

Reply Score: 1

RE: OffTopic, tinfoil hat
by shmerl on Tue 16th Dec 2014 04:57 UTC in reply to "OffTopic, tinfoil hat"
shmerl Member since:

Even if they don't, Big Brother does.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: OffTopic, tinfoil hat
by Fergy on Wed 17th Dec 2014 20:48 UTC in reply to "RE: OffTopic, tinfoil hat"
Fergy Member since:

Even if they don't, Big Brother does.

That is what he said. Big Brother is the corporations not the government.

Reply Score: 3

It's dictation software + translation
by ciaran on Tue 16th Dec 2014 03:42 UTC
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So it does three things: converts speech to text, then translates text, then reads aloud. And all that in something close to real time.

Reading aloud is easy, and none of those things are resource intensive so doing it in real time isn't the challenge. The first two are hard though, and the flaws introduced in the speech-to-text stage are going to make the translation task even harder.

I'm a little sceptical when I see an announcement that the combination of these two problems has been solved when I haven't yet seen an announcement that either of these problems on their own has been solved. Speech-to-text is still quite rough, as is translation (e.g. Google translate).

My first thought was that it could be useful for basic things like ordering a taxi in a foreign country, but I'm guessing this only works if you speak in the required slow and clear manner and leave the required pauses or maybe it even has to be trained to your voice, so calling random local services isn't going to work.

But hey, those are just my guesses. In a few days we'll hear user feedback about it.

Reply Score: 6

Lots of competition in this space
by Alfman on Tue 16th Dec 2014 03:54 UTC
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by manjabes on Tue 16th Dec 2014 06:25 UTC
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Wow, nice!
Now if it only were so smart as to share status information between the PC client and its WINDOWS PHONE client so that I'd not be unknowningly online all the time, that'd be nice.

Reply Score: 3

by cipri on Tue 16th Dec 2014 06:46 UTC
Member since:

This is just for fooling foolable people.
Skype is losing in favour is hangouts (you have better rates on hangouts, in many countries, the first minute is even free, which often is enough for a small conversation).
Google Translate on android can do the same, with even better synthesizer quality, and so it would be trivial to include this feature in hangouts, but as you should notice, it's very limited the usability for real conversation. Having conversations like: how is the weather, good, bad. Yes no, etc... is of course not a problem, but it becomes a problem, when you start to have breaks in your speech, when you have to think and reformulate your sentence etc.
Yes, it can be useful, like google translate indeed is, but about this demo-feature of skype you should not be trilled, because it's purpose is just get attention and hopping for better times, after making the horrible deal, and losing so much, now microsoft wants to cash back, the only problem is hangouts, which is stealing the show.

Reply Score: 0

by immanos on Tue 16th Dec 2014 08:13 UTC
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And we're supposed to trust the real-time translations from a company who did... this?

Reply Score: 0

RE: Scary
by WereCatf on Tue 16th Dec 2014 09:06 UTC in reply to "Scary"
WereCatf Member since:

Did you check the date on that thing?

Reply Score: 5

v RE[2]: Scary
by immanos on Tue 16th Dec 2014 10:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Scary"
RE: Scary
by Kochise on Tue 16th Dec 2014 11:46 UTC in reply to "Scary"
Kochise Member since:

See the automatic translated subtitle of Youtube videos to get an idea of what you can expect.

Reply Score: 3

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
by syngularyx on Tue 16th Dec 2014 13:04 UTC
Member since:

¿Me oyes? ¿Me oyes?

Translated with Bing ;)

Reply Score: 2

by kwan_e on Tue 16th Dec 2014 17:28 UTC
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Will never work with languages like Chinese, especially the Beijing dialect, because of all the homophones.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by twitterfire
by twitterfire on Wed 17th Dec 2014 07:32 UTC
Member since:

Show me an automatic translator which isn't totally and utterly crap.

Reply Score: 5