Microsoft is showing off a new technology that brings real-time translation to Skype. The company showed off a demo of Skype Translator at the Code Conference this week, with an English speaker talking face-to-face over Skype to a German speaker while software recognized the words spoken and translated them into written text and spoken words in near real-time.
Skype Translator isn’t available to the public yet, but Microsoft says a beta version for Windows 8 will be available by the end of 2014. Eventually we could see this technology built into Skype for other operating systems and platforms — so one day you might be able to use your smartphone as a kind of universal translator.
There are already plenty of tools that let you translate text on a website from one language to another — although anyone who’s ever tried reading Chinese websites in English through machine translation knows that the experience isn’t perfect. But the ability to communicate with business contacts or long-lost relatives around the globe via voice and video chat without having to learn their language is pretty crazy.