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  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Updating the Haitian Creole Translation system

    • 8 Comments

    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:image

    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

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Celebrating International Mother Language Day with the Launch of Welsh & New Features

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    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: 

    • Offline Language Packs for Polish and Turkish
    • Availability of Polish, Czech, Turkish, Greek and Hungarian in Camera Mode
    • Addition of Welsh and Maltese in Keyboard Mode
    • Release of Wide Tile for Windows Phone

           

     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 

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    New Auto-refill Feature in Windows Azure Marketplace

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    An easy way to subscribe to the Translator API is through the Windows Azure Marketplace , as evidenced by the thousands of developers subscribing to the service through the marketplace. The team just added an often asked for feature - Auto-refill. This feature addresses a key request from many Translator API customers who wanted to (a) more tightly control their monthly pre-committed subscription level and (b) not run out of volume in case the usage exceeds the forecast level.

    Here is what the marketplace team has to say about the new feature: 

    The Auto-refill option can be enabled on any paid subscription, giving more options to subscribers of the Microsoft Translator API ensure effective use of their subscription volumes. Auto-refill provides the ability to ensure that you, or anyone using your subscription, do not reach your usage limit before the end of your subscription period, and thus avoid the resultant loss of service. Auto-refill does this by cancelling your current Translator subscription and creating a new subscription before you reach your usage limit. All this happens seamlessly, without interrupting the service.

    How Does it Work?

    You subscription gives you a certain allotment of transactions, users, characters or other discrete limits (characters - for translator). Once you enable Auto-refill on a particular subscription, Windows Azure Marketplace monitors your character balance for the current subscription period. If your balance reaches 10% or less of your subscription limit, and you have not used up your maximum number of Auto-refills in the past 30 days (or have chosen unlimited Auto-refills), Windows Azure Marketplace re-subscribes you to, and charges you the then-effective subscription rate for, a new subscription, thereby giving you  new subscription period and new character balance. In addition, any characters remaining immediately before Auto-refill occurred are carried over to your new subscription so that you don’t lose anything you already paid for.

    Who Can Benefit From Auto-refill?

    Scenario 1 - Manage Anticipated Spikes in Volume

    If you are running a promotional campaign for your application you might see higher than expected traffic during the promotion. If you don't know what your target reach may be and want to ensure no interruption in service, you could select the "Unlimited" refill option during the course of the promotion. This will ensure that any unanticipated spikes are supported. In the month following the promotion, you can then modify your subscription and auto-refill needs accordingly. 

    Scenario 2 - Manage Your Costs

    The cyclical nature of projects may require higher or lower volumes in given months. Some months your usage may require only 4M characters and in others your usage may increase to 32M characters. With the auto-refill feature you can set your monthly volume to 4M with an auto-refill option of 8 refills.By leveraging the auto-refill feature, you are able to better manage your subscription to your lowest anticipated volumes / costs and then increase your volumes as needed. Allowing you to minimize time spent monitoring your usage and save costs over a larger subscription every month.   

    Step-by-Step to Enable Auto-Refill for Microsoft Translator

    Step 1: Select “Enable Auto Refill”

      

    Step 2: Enter the Number of refills, agree to the terms and conditions, and click “Submit”

     

    Step 3: Return to summary where uou should now see your available refills and option to “Edit Auto Refill”

     

    Click here to learn more about the Auto-refill feature and here to learn more about other release features for Windows Azure Marketplace.

     

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Welcome to the Machine Translation team blog!

    • 5 Comments

    Welcome to our blog! We are very excited to bring to you news and insights into work (and fun) at the Machine Translation (MT) Group within Microsoft Research. Hello World! We have great mix of researchers, developers, testers, program managers, linguists, designers and product managers working on MT here, and we are pleased to launch this blog as a way to connect with customers, partners and other friends of MT. We hope this will provide greater insight into the work we do and who we are, and we are very excited to be talking to you.

    Machine Translation (MT), to those that don’t know it, is exactly as it sounds: using a “machine” (in most cases computer software) to translate text from one human language to another. There have been many different approaches developed in this area and results have been improving over time. You will hear from members of the team that have been working on this technology and hear about how the research breakthroughs are coming to a desktop near you. We will be introducing you to the team building the new Microsoft Translator and you will get some background on the technology used for the site.

    RSS and Atom feeds are available for all posts or specific categories on this blog. For now anonymous blog comments are under moderation – I am hopeful that as long as spam levels remain low we can keep it that way.

    Once again, thank you for visiting the blog! Cheers!

    - Vikram

    Vikram Dendi works at Microsoft Research as Senior Product Manager for the Machine Translation (MSR-MT) group.
  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Simplicity is Possible in a Multi-Lingual, Omni Channel Support World

    • 2 Comments
    The following is a guest post by the Microsoft Translator Partner, Lionbridge Technologies, who developed GeoFluent as a solution to address the challenge of real-time translation of user generated content leveraging the Microsoft Translator automatic translation service and customization capabilities of the Translator Hub.

    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:

    • How does the solution integrate into existing software/workflows
    • The preservation of brand/product terms.
    • How to maximize translation quality through translation engine customization and agent/moderator training?
    • Does the solution offer adequate safeguards for the handling of PII.


    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.

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