Satya-Nadella-Recode

Need a translator while making overseas calls? By the end of this year, Skype will be able to automatically translate voice conversations in near real-time.  Satya Nadella, CEO of Skype’s parent company Microsoft, showed off the Skype Translator at the Code conference on Tuesday, where Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync, demonstrated near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa. The live demonstration combined Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition.

Skype Translator is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The Redmond giant says it invested in machine learning initiatives over a decade ago, in areas like speech recognition and automatic translation.  Initial results came with translations for Microsoft’s product-support Knowledge Base. The technology became available for public use as the engine behind Bing Translator.  In addition to machine translation, the speech-translation work has relied on years of research in areas like speech recognition, where researchers from Microsoft’s Beijing and Redmond labs played pivotal roles. You can find more about the research in a Microsoft blog post here.

Skype currently has more than 300 million connected users each month, and over two billion minutes of conversation a day.

[Image courtesy:  Asa Mathat – Re/code]