Mobility

Microsoft's universal translator uses AI to translate face-to-face conversations in real time

Using neural network technology, a new tool from Microsoft can translate in-person conversations in one of 60 languages.

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft Translator, recently made available in live preview, can translate face-to-face conversations in real time. The Translator is available through a mobile app or browser, and can translate conversations with up to 100 speakers, into 60 different languages.

The announcement was made via a blog post from Microsoft on Tuesday. The tool can perform speech translation in nine languages, and it can translate text in more than 50. And yes, it can even work in Klingon.

To perform a translation, users can download an app for Windows, Android, iOS, or Amazon Fire; or they can join a conversation through the following URL: http://translator.microsoft.com. As a user speaks during the conversation, the app will translate the words and display them in text on the other speakers' devices. Speakers connect with one another by inputting a conversation code.

SEE: Skype adds real-time translation; Slack launches video calls

The post gave a few different examples of how the technology could be used. Users will be able to make new connections with others, regardless of language barriers, providing information to those in need. For business travelers, or executives of international companies, the Microsoft Translator could make it easier to get around when traveling, or for simple networking when abroad.

As reported by ZDNet's Danny Palmer, the technology has also been used by migrants and refugees in London. By improving communication, it helps them feel less isolated.

The announcement comes only a few days after Microsoft expanded Skype Translator to work in conversation where not all participants are Skype users. The expansion means that it now works with mobile phone and landline users as well.

With the new features available in Microsoft Translate, the firm is entering an already crowded market of translation apps. Products like Google Translate and SayHi have traction, but if Microsoft Translator can differentiate itself with clearer translations, it could come out ahead. It may also find it easier to gain an audience among business users, due to Microsoft's history in the enterprise.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Microsoft Translator uses AI technologies to offer text and speech translation for face-to-face conversations in 60 languages.
  2. The technology could be used for business travelers to help them get around new countries and network with professionals who speak a different language.
  3. Microsoft also recently expanded Skype Translator, with translation support for non-Skype users on mobile and landline phones.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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