Today, Skype Translator introduces speech-to-speech translation for French and German. Skype Translator users can now make translated calls in near real time in 6 different languages: Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Additionally, Skype Translator can be used to IM in all 50 languages supported by Microsoft Translator. If you have Windows 8 or above, you can download Skype Translator to try them out for yourself at www.skype.com/translator. Don't forget that you only need to have Skype Translator installed on your computer to make a call-- your friends and family can receive translated calls on almost any device running Skype. In the time since Skype Translator launched, it has connected people throughout the world and helped break down the communication barriers that separate us. In Latin America, the organization Pro Mujer uses Skype Translator to provide low income women in Latin America with vital financial, health, and human development services-- helping them to become financially independent, healthy, and leaders in their communities. In China, it has helped foreign nationals work and converse. Using speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies, Skype Translator has proved to not only bridge the language gap, but the accessibility gap as well. Our team has found that Skype Translator can be a new and powerful communication tool for the deaf and hard of hearing. Watch the video below to see how it has already been used by one of our colleagues in a very personal and meaningful way. To learn how to set up the accessibility features in Skype Translator, click on your preferred language below:
Read more about these updates on the Skype blog . Learn More about Skype Translator:
Team: MSIT Enterprise Data Services Solution: Readiness, Customer Support In order to improve the automation of their partner incentive payments, the Enterprise Data Services team within Microsoft IT needed a way to quickly convert and standardize partner data profiles from virtually every country around the world in their local languages to Latin character sets. The Microsoft Translator API significantly increased the speed at which foreign language profile data could be converted, representing millions of dollars in partner incentive payments. For example, by using the Translator API over a 20-month period, MSIT was able to improve the integration of Japanese data from a baseline of 25% to over 67%.
Read more Translator Solutions in Action at www.aka.ms/TranslatorSolutionsInAction
Today Microsoft celebrates International Mother Language Day (IMLD) alongside UNESCO, with the goal to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism across the world.
Advancements in technology to support and preserve languages create greater awareness of the linguistic and cultural traditions celebrated throughout the world, which in turn promote understanding, tolerance and dialogue. Helping to enable business, communities, and consumers to communicate and collaborate across language barriers through technology innovation is a core focus for the Microsoft Translator team.
As part of that focus, Microsoft Translator is announcing Welsh as a new supported language in partnership with the National Assembly for Wales and leveraging the Microsoft Translator Hub. The Welsh language today becomes the latest to join a growing list of languages to benefit from translation services provided by Microsoft Translator.
In 2012, the National Assembly passed the Official Language Act into law, which placed a statutory duty on the Assembly Commission to treat both languages on the basis of equality.
The Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, said: “One of my key roles is to ensure that all the people of Wales are able to engage with the Assembly’s work, whether through the Welsh or English language. That’s why we have been working with Microsoft to create an automatic language translation system to help the Assembly to meet our own language goals.”
Machine translation is a key part of the Assembly’s commitment to delivering a fully bilingual institution where businesses and services can be delivered through the Welsh and English languages. Users can now translate to and from Welsh using the breadth of Microsoft products including: Office, Bing Translator as well as in the Bing Translator applications for Windows Phone and Windows.
In addition to backend service updates to the Microsoft Translator API, new updates have been released for Windows and Windows Phone Translator apps which include:
To further commemorate IMLD, the Microsoft Local Language Program, a part of Microsoft YouthSpark, announced the Language Toolbox, an additional resource to the Microsoft Language Portal (LLP), serving as a consolidated inventory of free language resources and tools provided by Microsoft to help bridge the gap between language and technology. You can read more about this new resource here.
At Microsoft, we are excited that the continued advancements of machine translation features and functionality are enabling users to achieve a shared understanding and make the world a little smaller every day.
To Learn More
Most of you know that we released the first publicly available Haitian Creole statistical machine translation engine last week and have been hard at work making it even better. I am pleased to announce since last night we rolled out two updates to the system and our site which bring several improvements:
1) More training data = better translations. We trained the system on even more training data (including data that we hand translated) which should reflect in better translations. We are nowhere near done yet, and we will continue to work on this.
2) Updating the AJAX API and widget. The Translator widget (and the underlying AJAX API) now accurately reflect “Haitian Creole” as the language selected in their UI. This was primarily a user interface fix (the Haitian Creole translation itself worked fine). You can use the widget to deliver any webpage in any of the languages we support (including Haitian Creole).
3) Please don’t forget the broad set of APIs and webmaster resources that are available for those that are building applications and websites to help with the relief efforts. There are several efforts underway to develop mobile apps (using the SOAP or HTTP API) and websites (using the AJAX API). If you are working on something along those lines, leave a link to your app/site in the comments and I will make sure to surface them up here so people can find them more easily.
We will continue to work on improving the system and we wish to thank everyone in the community that has been instrumental in helping us get this much requested translation engine out of the door. Stay tuned for more announcements!
Also, let me once again point to a resource where you can help with the broader Haiti relief efforts. Please help in any way you can!
Update (1/31): The DIPLOMAT project at CMU in the 1990s was an earlier project to create a Haitian Creole system for DOD/DARPA. As I mentioned in our earlier blog post, our system makes use of CMU’s data from that project.
- Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator
Let’s face it: customers appreciate simplicity. Nothing saves an angry customer from becoming an ex-customer like simple, seamless customer support. Savvy businesses offer up to a dozen contact channels to deliver support at the right time and place for a customer, but many are stymied by the complexity of providing this level of support for their entire customer base, and in a variety of different selling mediums. Consider the multi-lingual nature of North America alone. According to a recent survey, 30% of North Americans do not consider the English language as their native language. The number of limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals in the United States has also grown by 81 percent since 1990. Finally, nearly one in ten working-age U.S. adults—19.2 million persons aged 16 to 64—are considered limited English proficient. The complexity, customer service executives would say, is that they cannot possibly staff for support of all the languages of all their customers any given point. Another factor making effective customer service seemingly complex is the dynamic way customers can interact with service providers. This interaction is omni-channel, whereby customers can not only buy products from selling organizations, but also reverse direction and interact and provide feedback to that sell for all to see. This has put new pressure on sellers to quickly and effectively manage this interaction, or risk a hostile reputation. Indeed, according to Forrester Research, 67% of today’s Internet users would prefer to find (pre- and post- sales) answers online. Modern, simple customer support is dynamic – whether one to one contact channels like email ticketing and chat, communication takes place in near real time. Chat, for example, can be an effective way for customers to reach out to customer service representatives to have their issues resolved, and learn about new products. At the same time, technology has made it possible to allow customers to converse in their own native language, and provide the same capability for company representatives and other customer service staff. This is achieved by enhanced, personalized machine translation. As a result, multinational businesses – or even businesses with multilingual customer bases – can significantly broaden their reach, boost brand loyalty and cost-effectively support customers, regardless of language, location or device. Best of all, translation processes can be specially mindful of industry terms that need to be carefully translated, security concerns, and easy accessibility by both agent and consumer. Enhanced, personalized machine translation is definitely not as perfect as human translation. But that’s okay. What it does do is aide chat conversations that cannot wait for long-term translation perfection to be actionable, understandable, and immediate. When deploying machine translation in a support environment, organizations must consider:
This is the heart of what GeoFluent by Lionbridge does every day for all of our customers. As a result of our partnership with Microsoft Translator, we can help answer these challenges and make the customer service translation process simple, actionable, understandable, and immediate. Your customer base is only growing more diverse and channel-savvy. Providing simple, cost effective in language customer support is within your grasp. Please visit http://geofluent.lionbridge.com/ to learn how state of the art machine translation can make multilingual, multi-channel, customer support simple. By: Greg Belkin, Director of Product Marketing and Product Management, Lionbridge.