Microsoft shows off real-time Skype translator

RANCHO PALOS VERDES Calif. Wed May 28, 2014 7:21am IST

A page from the Skype website is seen in Singapore May 10, 2011. REUTERS/David Loh/Files

A page from the Skype website is seen in Singapore May 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/David Loh/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

RANCHO PALOS VERDES Calif. (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp showed off a test version of a real-time, spoken-word translation service for Skype calls on Tuesday, the first time the world's largest software company has demonstrated the breakthrough technology publicly in the United States.

Skype Translator, as it is currently called, allows speakers in different languages to hear the other's words spoken in their own language, according to a demo introduced by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella at the Code Conference technology gathering in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

"It is going to make sure you can communicate with anybody without language barriers," said Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO in February and is keen to re-establish the company as a technology leader after a decade of slipping behind Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing.

Nadella described the underlying technology as "magical," but said the task now was turn it into a real product rather than just a research project, promising it would launch by the end of the year. He did not say if it would be a free add-on for Skype users or a paid extra.

Immediate reaction to the demo, featuring an English-speaking Microsoft executive chatting with a German counterpart, was mixed. One German-speaking audience member said the translation was good enough for vacation, but not for business.

The new technology, which Microsoft demoed in a rougher form 18 months ago in China, could represent a significant feature for its Skype online chat service, which boasts hundreds of millions of users. It is an advance on Microsoft's current translation features that only work with written words on its Bing search engine and Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft has been working hard on speech recognition technology for years. Earlier this year it showed off Cortana, its voice-activated "personal assistant" designed to rival Apple's Siri.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Bill Rigby; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

JOB CUTS

Reuters Showcase

IPhone 6

IPhone 6

IPhone comes out of a "bygone era", reviewers hail bigger handset.  Full Article 

Revenue Forecast

Revenue Forecast

Adobe revenue forecast misses, shares slip.  Full Article 

Focus on Mars

Focus on Mars

Video: NASA to resume human space flight, focus on Mars.  Video 

Inside Microsoft

Inside Microsoft

Microsoft boosts dividend 11 pct, adds new directors.  Full Article 

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO

Alibaba IPO timing bodes well for Casino's Cnova listing.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage