Microsoft is working on new product called Skype Translator that will translate, in near real-time, words being spoken in different languages on a Skype call — promising to break down language barriers by leveraging years of work by the Redmond company in speech recognition and translation.
The technology was shown publicly for the first time tonight at Re/code’s Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., as part of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s appearance there.
Skype Translator is slated to be released as a beta for Windows 8 by the end of the year.
Microsoft exec Gurdeep Pall acknowledges in a post that the technology is still in its “early days,” and German-speaking attendees at the conference reportedly gave mixed reviews to the automated translation after an on-stage demo.
“Skype Translator opens up so many possibilities to make meaningful connections in ways you never could before in education, diplomacy, multilingual families and in business,” said Pall in the post. He called it “a great example of why Microsoft invests in basic research, noting that the Skype and Microsoft Translator teams are working jointly on the project.
Microsoft demonstrated an early version of the technology in China in 2012.
See this Re/code live blog for more from Nadella’s talk at the event. Among the highlights: Nadella says he has no plans to spin off Bing or Xbox, and he noted that he would prefer to see the company build the next big thing, rather than buy it. (So much for our list!)
Google’s Sergey Brin is coming up at the event later this evening.