Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

News and Views from the Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Team in Microsoft Research.

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Celebrating International Translation Day with New Translator Office App and Windows Phone App Updates

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    Today Microsoft celebrates International Translation Day. Promoted by the International Federation of Translators since 1953, the goal of International Translation Day has been to celebrate the worldwide translation community that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalization.  

    Real-time communication and collaboration technologies from video conferencing to social media have removed the physical barriers of communication and today translation technology is paving the way for removing the barrier of language in the same way. The Translator team within Microsoft Research is committed to helping to enable business, communities, and consumers to be able to communicate and collaborate regardless of language through technology innovation.

    In conjunction with International Translation Day we are excited to announce the Translator app in the Office Store available for download later today. The app allows users to take the existing translation features available in Word to the next level. Enhancing built-in features of being able to select text and instantly translate it, users can now leverage the customization capabilities of Translator with the new app. Expanded functionality within the app allows users to utilize Collaborative Translation Framework (CTF) to rate and edit translations. In addition, organizations can utilize the custom translation systems they have built with the Microsoft Translator Hub within office.  

    Today, we are also releasing new updates to the Bing Translator app for Windows Phone 8 that launched last year. Updates include camera translation support and offline line language packs for Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, and Swedish, camera support for Danish, use of  Windows Phone LED light as a lamp in camera mode for low light  translations, and the ability to remove history items one at a time. These new updates continue to empower consumers to use the app in their desired form from camera, type, or voice both on-the-go and offline. 

    In addition, over the last year the Translator team has launched a number of other tools and technologies. Earlier this year in partnership with Bing, we launched the Bing Translator app for Windows allowing users to leverage the unique features of Windows 8 from the Share Charm to Snap Mode to translate within their Windows 8 apps. Recently, the team also launched the next generation with the hugely popular Bing Translator Widget that allows webmasters to easily integrate real time translation into their website to reach a larger global audience, enable CTF, and support customized translation systems using the Hub. Like the Widget, the launch of the Translator control gave developers easy access to robust, cloud-based, automatic translation between more than 40 languages within their apps.

    And certainly we cannot overlook the launch of the first intergalactic supported language with the release of Klingon garnering significant buzz across the blogosphere.

    The explosive growth of social media and translation features from Microsoft in Facebook, Twitter, and Yammer have allowed users to develop new relationships creating more dynamic and vibrant communities. Users are no longer limited to communication with others in their preferred language, but through the power of real-time machine translation can communicate with anyone around the world regardless of language.    

    Taking the growth of communication one step further, earlier this year Microsoft Research unveiled a glimpse of what translation may look like in the future. During the 14th annual Computing in the 21st Century Conference, attendees saw a glimpse of where these technologies are taking us and were very excited by the prospect. During the keynote, Rick Rashid delivered his address in English that was instantly translated and delivered to the audience in Chinese. The excitement exploded across the web in response to this demonstration indicating how much everyone wants to experience the future translation has to offer.

    It is no secret that the proliferation of digital content on the web, mobile devices, and desktop applications is creating an increasing demand by users to communication and collaborate in multiple languages. We are excited that the continued integration of machine translation features and functionality is enabling users to do just that and are motivated by the challenge of future innovations to come.

    To learn more about how the Translator team in partnership with other Microsoft organizations is delivery translation to users worldwide, be sure to check out the other International Translation Day posts from Microsoft Next, Microsoft Research, Bing, Windows and Windows Phone, along with many others. Happy translating!  

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Unveiling Breakthroughs in Real-Time Translation with Skype Translator

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    Earlier this evening Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., in  talk during the Code Conference, unveiled an early look at the Skype Translator app. This app represents a breakthrough in language translation jointly developed by Microsoft researchers and Skype engineers, bridging geographic and language barriers through the use of real-time speech-to-speech translation. The functionality combines Skype voice and instant messaging, Microsoft Translator and machine-learning based technologies for speech recognition that are used in Windows and Windows Phone Translation applications today.

    During Nadella’s conversation with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg of the Re/code tech website relating to a new era of personal computing, he asked Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Lync and Skype, to join him on stage. While on stage, Pall demonstrated for the first time publicly the Skype Translator app, with Pall conversing in English with German-speaking Microsoft employee Diana Heinrichs.

    Watch the Demo

    Speech has been a natural evolution of the translation work that Microsoft has been delivering to consumers and businesses across a broad number of products and solutions. The work represents over a decade of work within Microsoft Research that has become a reality through a series of remarkable research advances in translation, speech recognition, and language processing. This demonstration is the next step in delivering the real time speech translation experience to users that Rick Rashid, then the worldwide head of Microsoft Research, demonstrated a year and a half ago.

    The Skype Translator app will available first on Windows 8 later this year as a limited beta.

    It has been an exciting day as we unveil this remarkable technology advancement that brings people one step closer to removing barriers of communication regardless of language or location!

    Learn More about Skype Translator

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Language Can Make the Difference Between Good and Great Customer Service

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    The following is a guest post by the Microsoft Translator Partner, Lionbridge Technologies, who developed GeoFluent as 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.

    ----------------------------------------

    It’s the middle of the night in China, and you are still at the office, working on a complex installation that needs to be up and running by the time the boss comes in the next day. There is no room for error, and the pressure is on.

    All of the sudden, a server malfunctions, and you realize your big project has stalled, and progress has come to a halt. What do you do?

    Your first lifeline is the vendor’s “Contact Us” button on their website. A chat window opens up immediately with customer support on the other end. An agent works through the issue with you online, and suddenly the project is back underway. You breathe a deep sigh of relief.

    What you don’t know is that the customer support agent only speaks English and was seamlessly interacting with you, even though your native language is Chinese. The communication was so seamless you weren’t even aware that a language gap existed. Somehow, it just worked.   What you did know, however, is that, had immediate assistance from customer support not been available, you would likely be looking for a new vendor for future business.

    The lesson learned is simple.  Today’s business demands that companies of all types need to be able to respond and support their global customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  That means that customer service personnel must be able to provide that support to customers regardless of their native language and time zone. 

    The challenge with that type of customer service and support is that neither native speakers or human translation are viable solution, both from a cost, response-time and scalability standpoint. Can machine translation solve this problem effectively?

    As experts in translation and localization services, we at Lionbridge understood that while automatic translation provided the immediacy necessary to keep up with the translation demands of user-generated content, business clients demanded more.  Translations had to at least be actionable and understandable even if they weren’t perfect.

    The list of challenges that needed to be addressed to make automatic translation valid for these customer support scenarios were numerous. Some of the biggest hurdles included:  

    1. Typos and Slang - With user-generated content, people tend to take shortcuts and write in a less formal and more conversational manner resulting in typos, slang, shorthand and industry-centric language. While this is common, it is problematic for translation systems to identify and fix appropriately.  
    2. Chat Client - Each customer had a customized version of the chat client that implies any translation solution needed to integrate into their existing workflow and products.  
    3. Global Search– Monolingual search in forum and community sites is much different than multilingual search from both a search criteria and results perspective.  Finding an approach that is intuitive for the end user had to be a primary focus.

    For this reason, we developed GeoFluent, a real-time automated translation solution designed to meet the needs of business clients in a scalable and cost effective manner. Building on Microsoft Translator as the  underlying automatic translation service, GeoFluent provides an additional configuration layer that enables real-time conversations and content sharing with users who speak, read and write different languages. It is easily integrated into customer’s existing
    chat and community applications. 

    We took these above mentioned challenges into account when developing GeoFluent. This SaaS-based application delivers the features that businesses require, including:

    • Masking personally identifiable information during the translation process.
    • Protecting company, brand and product names so that the right corporate image is delivered in any language.
    • Building company glossaries and systems to provide preferred translations to accommodate corporate, industry and locale-specific terminology through use of the Translator Hub.
    • Adding layers of linguistic processing to remove slang, typos, grammatical and punctuation errors from source material and provide support for regional variants of languages.

    A successful machine translation experience must be seamless, actionable, and timely. GeoFluent makes this makes this possible for the demanding needs of customer service organizations to support a global customer base.

    To learn more about how GeoFluent solutions are leveraging Microsoft Translator, go to:

    GeoFluent Video

    GeoFluent Partner Page

     

    By Greg Belkin

    Director, Product Marketing

    Lionbridge Technologies

    www.lionbridge.com

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Multilingual App Toolkit 3.1 Launched – Localize Your App, Extend Your Reach

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    Today, the Multilingual App Toolkit (MAT) team announced the release of MAT 3.1. The Multilingual App Toolkit integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio to provide Windows Store apps and Windows Phone apps with translation support powered, translation file management, and editor tools powered by Microsoft Translator.

    This release provides several key fixes as well as new and improved features including:

    • Visual Studio Online builds
    • Expanded import, export and recycling
    • Improved translation and suggestion results
    • As well as a number of key fixes

    The MAT team really focused on key features as well as addressing both reported and non-reported issues in this release. A huge congratulations to the MAT team and their great work delivering this latest release!

    Please note that due to updates to the setup process, you will need to perform a one-time uninstall of MAT v3.0 or earlier before installing v3.1.

    Get Started Using MAT Today

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