Your business is in Boston. You have clients in Beijing. You’re about to communicate via Skype for the first time, and you’re worried. “Will they be comfortable speaking English? Does anyone here speak Mandarin?”
Skype says concerns like that could soon go the way of the fax machine thanks to the company’s Translator Preview, expected to roll out at the end of this summer as part of the Skype For Windows desktop app.
Skype made the announcement recently on the heels of the news that it had dropped the sign-up requirement that had once been necessary to get the Translator Preview.
The company says on its blog:
“Since then, we have seen a 300% increase in Skype Translator usage! We are thrilled with the positive response from around the world, and especially thankful to ALL of the early adopters who downloaded the application, and use it every day! Remember: Skype Translator uses machine learning, so the more people use the technology, the better the experience for everyone!”
As of now, Skype Translator comes in four spoken languages — English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Italian — as well as 50 languages for instant messages. That means users can write an instant message in their language, and the recipient will receive it in theirs.
Skype Translator works through a process known as machine learning, which means the capability of a software to learn from data training examples.
Per the Skype website:
“After the data is prepared and entered into the machine learning system, the machine learning software builds a statistical model of the words in these conversations, and their context. When you say something, the software can find something similar in its statistical model, and apply the previously learned transformation from audio to text and from text into the foreign language.”
According to The Verge, the new roll-out of Translator could be timed to coincide with the debut of Windows 10 on July 29. The Verge’s Tom Warren suggests:
“The summer timing of this Skype update could indicate that Microsoft is planning to combine and overhaul the Windows tablet and PC versions of Skype into a single app.”