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
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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!
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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:
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 existingchat 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:
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 Partner Page
By Greg Belkin
Director, Product Marketing
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. has released a new Bing Translator plugin that lets you apply the power of Bing Translator to any WordPress site running version 3.8 or later.
Using the plugin, visitors can translate a site into any of the 40+ supported languages in one click without leaving the page once this light-weight, cross-browser plugin is installed. This plugin also provides options for a setting a color scheme, as well as an option to allow visitors to suggest translations.
The Bing Translator plugin should be installed from within the WordPress Dashboard by clicking on Plugins >Add New and search for "Bing Translator” and works on any WordPress site. A site developer can also manually install the plugin by downloading it from WordPress.org, then adding the “bing-translator” folder in the “/wp-content/plugins/” directory.
Using Bing Translator Plugin for WordPress Video
More Links to Get Started
Congratulations to Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc team for their great work on the Bing Translator Plugin for WordPress!
A frequently asked question we get is how to translate a Facebook post when the "Translate" menu does not appear? In some instances the "Translate" link will not appear under some posts. This behavior is not under Microsoft Translator control and the feature does not need to be installed or added by end-users. It will appear automatically based on Facebook own algorithms.If the link does not appear you have multiple options to still have an easy access to Bing Translator. There are three ways you can go about using the Bing Translator features powered by Microsoft Translator, which are: In Internet Explorer A) Select the text, right-click and select "Translate with Bing" B) Install the Bing Bar at www.BingBar.com. It contains the Bing Translator app by default, but is not installed by default. You will need to go in its setting menu and add it to the bar On any computer browser A) Copy-paste the text on the Bing Translator page: www.Bing.com/Translator B) Install the Translator Bookmarklet in your browser to translate the sections of a webpage that is not in your Browser's language: http://labs.microsofttranslator.com/bookmarklet On a mobile device (Tablet or Phone) A) On Windows Phone and Window 8.1 tablet install the Bing Translator app from the store B) On Apple or Android devices: go on the Bing Translator mobile webpage: www.bing.com/translator
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.
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