Skype have been developing a new tool which allows its users access to real time professional translators during voice calls.
After decades of development and testing, the breakthrough translation device was made available on December 15th 2014 to Skype users who had previously signed up to receive the service.
The company claim that when they first started looking in to real time voice translation it seemed “a nearly impossible task”, but the program was given hope in 2010 when a project was launched which allowed phone calls to be translated from one language to another in real time. (http://blogs.skype.com/2014/12/15/skype-translator-preview-an-exciting-journey-to-a-new-chapter-in-communication/)(http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/27/5756166/microsofts-skype-translator-will-translate-voice-calls-on-the-fly)
The update helps to close language barriers and allows communication between people who speak different languages without the need for a translator, or years of dedicated learning. The users of the tool can speak freely in their native language, and Microsoft will solve the translation issues for them. The breakthrough tool currently only decodes real time English and Spanish, but other languages settings, such as German, are being worked on in hope for release in the near future.
In addition to real time translation, 40+ instant messaging languages will also be open to Skype users who have signed up via the Skype translator page. The tool has been dominantly marketed at schools, with tests being done between classrooms across the US and Mexico. You can see an example of the tool being used between classes of children in Washington and Mexico City below: The children played a game called ‘Mystery Skype’ where they asked each other questions to try and discover where in the world the other school was located. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/30504264)
Skype claims that the more people that use the service and the higher the demand for it becomes, the more the quality of translation will be improved and the more languages that will be added.
I believe Sype’s real time translation tool will massively benefit companies, businesses and schools across the globe as it brings people together and allows for simple collaboration without any communication barriers.
Furthermore, Real Time Translation brings with it the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of our world’s diversity of language and culture.