Microsoft already has Bing Translator to help users translate words into other languages but late on Tuesday the company revealed plans to expand those efforts to include its popular Skype client. The project is simply called Skype Translator, and it was introduced by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as part of his presentation at the Code Conference.
Nadella was joined by Gurdeep Pall, leader of Microsoft's Skype and Lync team, on the stage during the presentation. Pall used Skype Translator to speak in English to a German-speaking friend on the other side of the video chat. Pall's voice was nearly instantly translated into German, and his friend's words were also turned into English via the Skype Translator machine voice. Microsoft first showed off this "Star Trek" universal translator technology back in 2012 as part of its many Microsoft Research projects.
In a blog post, Pall stated:
Skype Translator is a great example of why Microsoft invests in basic research. We’ve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they’re emerging as important components in this more personal computing era.
The first public release of Skype Translator will come sometime in late 2014 with a Windows 8 app beta test. Nadella indicated that eventually it will be release for all of the platforms already used by Skype. When asked when it will be possible to simply call someone in Egypt and have an easy translated conversation with them, Nadella indicated it will happen sometime in the next two years.