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Microsoft teases real-time Skype voice translations, to launch on Windows first

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
Microsoft on Tuesday introduced the world to a new real-time translation feature for popular Skype voice over IP software, which the company says will debut in beta form on Windows later this year with support for other platforms to follow.



At Re/code's first ever Code Conference, the Redmond, Wash.-based company presented the translation technology in an onstage demo, with VP Gurdeep Singh Pall conversing with a German-speaking Microsoft employee.

According to those present for the demonstration, there was little to no delay in Skype's translation between English-to-German or German-to-English, but accuracy was spotty. Pall noted that Microsoft wanted each person to finish speaking so audience members could hear the machine translation.

Pall said Microsoft is looking to make the translation service more accurate by harvesting data from real Skype conversations, nailing down colloquialisms and non-dictionary word usage, among other intricacies. A stumbling block is consumer privacy, of course, but Pall noted that agreements from only a small fraction of Skype's huge user base would provide more than enough information.

A number of software makers, including Google and third-party firms creating iOS apps, have fielded their own versions of translation tools to limited success. What makes the new Skype tech exciting is its ability to deliver speech-to-speech translation for an entire conversation, not just single words or sentences.

Microsoft plans to debut the tech in a consumer beta version of Skype for Windows sometime this year and said "a handful" of languages will be supported at launch. Following a rollout for Windows 8, the company will eventually add more languages and support for other platforms, which likely include Apple's OS X and iOS.
post #2 of 49
Awesome More Vaporware from the Vaporware specialists
post #3 of 49

As cool as their take on the Star Trek "universal translator" could be (assuming it works better than other language manglers translators), launching on Windows is not enough to get me to use Windows again (never again, if I can help it).

 

But, good on Microsoft for creating something innovative. After all Google Apple needs competition. ;) 

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

Awesome More Vaporware from the Vaporware specialists
Um they actually showed this off at the Code conference and said it was coming later this year. What exactly is vaporware about it? I want to know when we'll see this with FaceTime.
post #5 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

As cool as their take on the Star Trek "universal translator" could be (assuming it works better than other language manglers translators), launching on Windows is not enough to get me to use Windows again (never again, if I can help it).

But, good on Microsoft for creating something innovative. After all Google Apple needs competition. 1wink.gif  
So will we see this with FaceTime so Apple can show everyone how to do it properly? 1wink.gif
post #6 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


So will we see this with FaceTime so Apple can show everyone how to do it properly? 1wink.gif

I hope so, I am sure it is not too far of a stretch to have siri do it as technically speech recognition is translation to binary why not have it pipe back in a designated language what it thinks it heard?

post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

So will we see this with FaceTime so Apple can show everyone how to do it properly? 1wink.gif

 

Apple has got pretty much all the IP to do it with Siri. They just need to tap into it. Siri understands multiple languages, so they'd just have to do a translator and add it to FaceTime. In fact, there are some apps in the iOS App Store that can listen to one language and speak the translation in another, but for short phrases or simple sentences. What Microsoft did was marry that with Skype, and it's a terrific idea. Like I said, good on them for doing it. I guarantee you that Google will do something like it, just to keep up with Microsoft.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #8 of 49

its vaporware because they did not release it but just showed you a demonstration Micro$haft have shown off many things they never actually released.

post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

its vaporware because they did not release it but just showed you a demonstration Micro$haft have shown off many things they never actually released.
is CarPlay vaporwear because no one can buy a car with it yet?
post #10 of 49
That will make it easier for the NSA.
post #11 of 49
The King of vaporware and terminal beta is Google.
post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


is CarPlay vaporwear because no one can buy a car with it yet?

Yes 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporware

post #13 of 49
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
Yes 

 

No, not in the slightest.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

Yes 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporware
You obviously don't have a clue what vaporware is.
post #15 of 49
To think they had all that time to rehearse their small talk and it still didn't perform to the level of hype worthy of an announcement. Amusingly despite how different English and German sound, they're remarkably similar languages.

Why am I so pessimistic?

Voice recognition isn't there, not for any language, not from any provider. Not from Microsoft, not from Google, not from Apple. It's good for commands, but not for conversational scenarios where context determines the correct or near homophone and the effect of mood on language clarity.

However even if they fixed voice recognition - translation is still not there. I use both google and bing's translation services frequently (multiple times a day, coincidentally it's for English/German as per the demo.) Even when the input is ideal (grammatically correct), the error rate is high, the results frequently cause amusement, the output grammar is terrible and there is no compensation for idioms or colloquialism. Worse still, even basic beginner German translation is full of novice errors.
The most these translation services give you is a caveman-like interpretation of the intended statement, even still, there are still outliers in the translation which need to be ignored or risk throwing off the meaning. These services are really useful to people who already speak both languages and just need a prod to remember a word here or there, for everyone else it's just a finger pointing into the wind.

"Real-time" is just false advertising, even in languages as similar as English and German, the whole sentence structure is needed to discern the meaning. In the most extreme examples, simply changing the last or second last word in a sentence can change the entire meaning or context of the statement.
post #16 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


You obviously don't have a clue what vaporware is.

apparently i need to quote Wikipedia for you rather then just give you a link

 

Vaporware

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
This article is about a computer industry term regarding product releases. For the company, see VaporWare (company). For the musical genre, see vaporwave.
The U.S. Justice Department accused IBM of intentionally announcing its System/360 Model 91computer (pictured) three years early to hurt sales of its competitor's computer.

Vaporware is a term in the computer industry that describes a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually released nor officially cancelled. Vaporware is also a term sometimes used to describe events that are announced or predicted, never officially cancelled, but never intended to happen. The term also generally applies to a product that is announced months or years before its release, and for which public development details are lacking. The word has been applied to a growing range of products including consumer, automobiles, and some stock trading practices. At times, vendors are criticized for intentionally producing vaporware in order to keep customers from switching to competitive products that offer more features.[1]

post #17 of 49
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
apparently i need to quote Wikipedia for you rather then just give you a link
 

 

No, the term is never applied like that.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

No, the term is never applied like that.

So the fact that it is Applied like that in Wikipedia has no bearing on your "Theory" interesting. 

 

lets agree to disagree

post #19 of 49
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

lets agree to disagree

 

No, let’s teach you what vaporware actually is.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

No, let’s teach you what vaporware actually is.

Can you also teach Wikipedia and the rest of the industries that use the term as they also don't understand your definition either

post #21 of 49
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
the rest of the industries

 

Yeah, never heard anyone in any industry use it in that case. Long cycle announcements become vaporware when they don’t show. Not before.

 

In your world, the iPhone was vaporware.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Yeah, never heard anyone in any industry use it in that case. Long cycle announcements become vaporware when they don’t show. Not before.

 

In your world, the iPhone was vaporware.

A product or announcement is vaporware until it is released to the intended customer. in other words they are selling hot air.  

 

Can you get this product today? No

 

The iPhone was until it was released vaporware but it is a physical product I own now and therefor not vaporware anymore.

 

The difference is Apple is Trusted by the public that when they announce something that it will be released. Microsoft on the other hand is at the other end of the trust spectrum.

 

In this case they are stating purchase windows because we are going to release this awesome product later in the year as it will only work on windows.

post #23 of 49
Still fairly close in his estimates (maybe 5-6 years off):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictions_made_by_Ray_Kurzweil

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #24 of 49
Understanding the meaning of a sentence is necessary before you can translate it properly. This technology does not exist yet, and maybe it never will.

Machine translation today is useful for isolated words and phrases, not for conversations or any other text of substantial length.

Professional translators use software to ensure consistency, to look up words, to help with terminology, and sometimes to create a rough draft. They do NOT use it to translate a text from one language into another.

Try Google translate on a page - translate it from English to German and then back to English. You'll be surprised. Complete garbage.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post
 

As cool as their take on the Star Trek "universal translator" could be (assuming it works better than other language manglers translators), launching on Windows is not enough to get me to use Windows again (never again, if I can help it).

 

 

Nothing compares to the Babel Fish!

post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
 

 

lets agree to disagree

 

You don't know Tallest Skil very well, do you?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

No, let’s teach you what vaporware actually is.

 

@MRsneezy, now you do!

post #27 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post
 

 

You don't know Tallest Skil very well, do you?

 

 

@MRsneezy, now you do!

it is interesting he stated he wanted to teach me what the true definition of vaporware was but never gave a definition or quoted a source. funny that I have.

post #28 of 49
But will it work, other than in a demo? No
post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by yoyo2222 View Post

That will make it easier for the NSA.

 

I logged in because I was going to post the very same thing.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

Reply

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

Reply
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

it is interesting he stated he wanted to teach me what the true definition of vaporware was but never gave a definition or quoted a source. funny that I have.

Sure, because an open, publicly-editable source is the most reliable thing to use to back up the point you want to make.

You're also only taking one of the three definitions that Wikipedia mentions in the opening paragraph, and deliberately ignoring the other two (which contradict your point). You may as well quote urban dictionary.
post #31 of 49
Anyway, to come crashing back to the point at hand...

As several people have said, automated translation is pretty rubbish (although hilarious - anybody been to China and used a machine-translated menu?) but the part of this that sounds interesting is Microsoft's aspirations to harvest data from Skype conversations to improve accuracy in the long term.

Obviously, there are many privacy issues to discuss here, but what I'm interested in is the idea that maybe artificial intelligence could be used to basically learn a language. Apple, google and Microsoft are all working on exciting technologies and, whilst this won't be a Universal Translator overnight, it might be a step in the right direction.
post #32 of 49

The problem with automatic translation is simple: it does not work. Because it needs real artificial intelligence (the machine must understand the meaning). The HAL utopia will arrive eventually, but not yet. This is just a promotional plot from Microsoft.

post #33 of 49
Everybody is still working on proper translators for written sentences (google is tragic in this regard). It might work for business talk but I doubt it will for more intimate conversations
post #34 of 49

Example:

 

In english one applies the term "history" both for "history as in history channel" and "history as in browse "history"".

 

In italian you use the term history for "history channel" and chronology for "browser chronology".

 

My Apple tv therefore translates "History Channel" as "Chronology Channel" in the italian version.... 

 

 

...

post #35 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post
 

As cool as their take on the Star Trek "universal translator" could be (assuming it works better than other language manglers translators), launching on Windows is not enough to get me to use Windows again (never again, if I can help it).

 

But, good on Microsoft for creating something innovative. After all Google Apple needs competition. ;) 

I think you should have done a strike-through on Apple instead.  Since Google's Translation tech is far superior to anything else i've tried.

Apple has shown zero interest in translation software.  Which is sad since if you want to change the world this would be a great way to do it.  Build it into your web browser, email client, iMessage.  Google's is by far not perfect but it's better than anything else i've seen and they integrate it into many of their core services.  Hat's off to MS *IF* it ever ships.  Problem with Apple showing no interest (my guess) is that they can't make money off it.  All their core services are free except for iCloud storage.  And Translation software is no easy or cheap task.  They are so behind in services it really kills me why they don't care.  Google had web apps for nearly a decade before iCloud.com.  Same with maps, cloud sync. etc.  They really need to focus on this.


Edited by antkm1 - 5/28/14 at 5:26am
post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


According to those present for the demonstration, there was little to no delay in Skype's translation between English-to-German or German-to-English, but accuracy was spotty. Pall noted that Microsoft wanted each person to finish speaking so audience members could hear the machine translation.

 

Another good reason is that it's pretty much impossible otherwise. German tends to have the verbs at the end of the sentence, so in most cases you'd have to wait for the end of the sentence before you can translate into English, since English isn't structured the same way.

post #37 of 49
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
A product or announcement is vaporware until it is released to the intended customer. 

 

No, that’s completely psychotic. The word ‘vaporware’ has never been used in that context. You are completely wrong.

 

Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post
it is interesting he stated he wanted to teach me what the true definition of vaporware was but never gave a definition or quoted a source. funny that I have.

 

Yes, you gave the right definition already. That’s why I didn’t waste my time doing the same. You simply refuse to accept the right definition and therefore look like a complete fool.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #38 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post


Um they actually showed this off at the Code conference and said it was coming later this year. What exactly is vaporware about it? I want to know when we'll see this with FaceTime.

 

They did the exact same thing with Courier a number of years ago. That got loads of people excited, yet the product never materialised.

post #39 of 49
Incorrect nomenclature is being used in identifying the technology.
In the field of language, "translation" refers to operating upon written text to create the same meaning in another language, operating on whole sentences or passages. "Interpreting" refers to operating upon spoken language to convey the meaning in another language, operating upon fragments at a time. Those who work in the field are very sensitive to misuse of the terminologies.
post #40 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

 
As cool as their take on the Star Trek "universal translator" could be (assuming it works better than other language manglers translators), launching on Windows is not enough to get me to use Windows again (never again, if I can help it).

But, good on Microsoft for creating something innovative. After all Google Apple needs competition. 1wink.gif  
I think you should have done a strike-through on Apple instead.  Since Google's Translation tech is far superior to anything else i've tried.
Apple has shown zero interest in translation software.  Which is sad since if you want to change the world this would be a great way to do it.  Build it into your web browser, email client, iMessage.  Google's is by far not perfect but it's better than anything else i've seen and they integrate it into many of their core services.  Hat's off to MS *IF* it ever ships.  Problem with Apple showing no interest (my guess) is that they can't make money off it.  All their core services are free except for iCloud storage.  And Translation software is no easy or cheap task.  They are so behind in services it really kills me why they don't care.  Google had web apps for nearly a decade before iCloud.com.  Same with maps, cloud sync. etc.  They really need to focus on this.

No need for translation language to change the world. Just learn English. Problem solved.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
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