Skype launches translator trial

English and Spanish are first language for real-time conversation, but 40 more will be available for instant messaging

17 December 2014

THE video call service Skype has begun a trial of online conversational translation.

While English and Spanish are the only two languages available for instant conversational translation, more than 40 others will be rolled out using Skype’s instant messaging service.

Anyone interested can sign up for a chance to preview the service here.

You need to be using Windows 8.1 to use the service. Anyone with Windows 8 can upgrade for free, anyone without is excluded for the moment.

Those familiar with the translation efforts of Microsoft’s Bing search engine (which are regularly offered on Facebook) may be slightly wary of how effective this latest service will be.

Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion, says the technology learns as it is used and the translations will improve over time.

The company has released a video showing a demonstration of simple conversations between children at Peterson School in Mexico City and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma USA.

In 2013 Google announced it had a prototype speech translation service that was close to 100% accuracy but nothing has been heard since.

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