Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Skype and Lync at Microsoft, updated The Official Microsoft Blog with news that Microsoft plans to release a real-time translator for Skype on Windows 8 by the end of 2014. The tech was demoed Tuesday night during the inaugural Code Conference featuring Kara Swisher, Walt Mossberg and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
"Today, we have more than 300 million connected users each month, and more than 2 billion minutes of conversation a day as Skype breaks down communications barriers by delivering voice and video across a number of devices, from PCs and tablets, to smartphones and TVs," Pall writes. "But language barriers have been a blocker to productivity and human connection; Skype Translator helps us overcome this barrier."
In a video demo located here, Pall demonstrates Skype Translator in action as he talks to his German colleague. He doesn't speak German, so during the test he spoke in English; the app translated his sentences into German using a male voice. On the other end, his German friend Diana Heinrichs spoke in her native language while Skype translated her responses into English using a female voice. Skype also provided the converted text along with the original sentences at the bottom of the screen.
"It is early days for this technology, but the Star Trek vision for a Universal Translator isn't a galaxy away, and its potential is every bit as exciting as those Star Trek examples," Pall writes. "Skype Translator opens up so many possibilities to make meaningful connections in ways you never could before in education, diplomacy, multilingual families and in business."
Re/code reports that Microsoft will start with a "handful" of languages, and hopes to quickly add additional languages in the near future. Microsoft also wants to support the numerous smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops that already use Skype.
"In our industry, we often talk about pursuing big, bold dreams, and of how we're limited only by the power of our imaginations. Skype Translator is one of those endeavors," Pall writes.