Microsoft’s research department has been building some incredible things of late, and one of them comes from the Skype team and was demoed on stage at Re/code’s Code conference back in May: Skype Translator lets users talk via voice and video in real-time even if they don’t speak the same language, and now it’s ready for a limited public roll-out.
On the official Skype blog, Microsoft issues a request for sign-ups from those interested in trialling Skype Translator, which will begin to roll out shortly to those who are approved for inclusion in the program. It’s a free trial, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the final release of Skype Translator arrives as a paid subscription add-on, and at the start it’ll be available only to users running Windows 8.1 PC, notebook and tablet hardware.
Skype Translator works by translating both sides of a conversation into the other party’s preferred language in real-time, and displaying a scrolling on-screen transcript of the conversation as it happens. The tech is designed to also translate IM chats in 45 languages, though voice and video will only support a few languages during this first technical trial period. The languages listed on the sign-up page include Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
I want this, and it will be a great boon for anyone who regularly has to work with or interview people located in other parts of the world. Skype says the technical preview will begin before the end of the year, so here’s hoping we don’t have to wait long before everyone can get a taste of this real-time Rosetta Stone.