Skype's Star Trek-Style Translator: How to Use It

Skype Translator is being rolled out today supporting six voice languages.

ByABC News
October 1, 2015, 12:55 PM
Skype Translator is being rolled out to desktop users.
Skype Translator is being rolled out to desktop users.

— -- Speaking just one language no longer has to be a barrier to global communication.

Skype Translator, Microsoft's Star Trek-style real-time speech translation tool, is being rolled out to the masses today as part of the Skype for Windows app.

The initial release supports six languages for voice translation, including English, French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish. More than four dozen languages are supported on Skype's instant messaging platform.

The program, which has been available in preview since December, relies on machine learning, meaning the more people use it, the smarter and more precise it will get.

An English speaker listening to an Italian speaker will see English subtitles on their screen and will also hear the text being read aloud, letting two people conversing with each other in different languages carry on a natural conversation with just an incredibly brief delay as the technology fills the role that a human translator would otherwise have to fill.

While the service is surprisingly fast, it's not 100 percent perfect and does stumble in some areas such as hearing certain names, however its machine learning infrastructure means Skype Translator will only get smarter as more people use it.

Skype for Windows users can try it out by choosing the globe icon appear in the upper right corner of the conversation window before starting a video chat. While the first round includes six languages, Skype's long-term goal is even more ambitious. The company plans to "translate as many languages as possible on all relevant platforms" creating what will essentially become a real-life Star Trek-style translator.