Microsoft & Skype intend to launch a real time language translator service this year according to an article by the BBC. Satya Nadella, Skype’s chief executive plans to introduce a test version for Windows 8 in the run up to 2015.
Due to increasing competition in the the VOIP market from the likes of google & co, these companies have been forced to pursue & develop more varied product offerings. Should this technology prove effective, it could spell trouble for the interpreting sector in a similar way that machine translation (MT) has impacted the language industry.
Skype claims the service is the result of more than a decade of detailed work with speech recognition systems and believes it could have dramatic concequenceses for the entire communication industry, with Mr Nadella adding
“It is going to make sure you can communicate with anybody without language barriers,”
While Skype’s vice president, Gurdeep Pall, accepts the technology is still very much in its early stages, he believes the prospect of the fabled universal translator is not as far away as it once was
“We’ve invested in speech recognition, automatic translation and machine learning technologies for more than a decade, and now they’re emerging as important components in this more personal computing era,”
“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.”
There is still a clear divide between the current abilities of machines vs. humans in regards to quality of translation, as we have covered in previous articles. However, few would deny that gap is narrowing year on year. It has taken MT a while but with the growth in popularity of services like Google translate, a point has been reached where it has undoubtedly begun to muddy the waters of some client perception towards language service providers.
Let us know what you think in the comments, is it an exciting prospect or a worrying development?