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Paul Merrell

Microsoft Demos Real-Time Translation Over Skype - Slashdot - 1 views

  • "Today at the first annual Code Conference, Microsoft demonstrated its new real-time translation in Skype publicly for the first time. Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft's VP of Skype and Lync, compares the technology to Star Trek's Universal Translator. During the demonstration, Pall converses in English with a coworker in Germany who is speaking German. 'Skype Translator results from decades of work by the industry, years of work by our researchers, and now is being developed jointly by the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams. The demo showed near real-time audio translation from English to German and vice versa, combining Skype voice and IM technologies with Microsoft Translator, and neural network-based speech recognition.'"
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    Haven't yet explored to see what's beneath the marketing hype. And I'm less than excited about the Skype with its NSA tendrils being the vehicle of audio translations of human languages. But given the progress in: [i] automated translations of human texts; [ii] audio screenreaders; and [iii] voice-to-text transcription, this is one we saw coming. Slap the three technologies together and wait until processing power catches up to what's needed to produce a marketable experience. After all, the StarTrek scriptwriters saw this coming too.   Ray Kurzweil, now at Google, should get a lot of the pioneer credit here. His revolutionary optical character recognition algorithms soon found themselves redeployed in text-to-speech synthesis and speech recognition technology. From Wikipedia: "Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer Kurzweil K250 capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition." Not bad for a guy the same age as my younger brother. But Microsoft's announcement here may be more vaporware than hardware in production and lines of executable code. Microsoft has a long history of vaporware announcements to persuade potential customers to hold off on riding with the competition.  And the Softies undoubtedly know that Google's human language text translation capabilities are way out in front and that the voice to text and text to speech API methods have already found a comfortable home in Android and Chromebook. What does Microsoft have that's ready to ship if anything? I'll check it out tomorrow. 
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