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Sunday, May 17, 2015

1594. The Future is Here: Live Language Translation?

The Future is Here: Live Language Translation

I often need to speak to vendors on other countries, and although they speak halting English, it seems like it would be so much easier to have some live translation facility. I may be dreaming, but I would love if I could find some way to be able to speak English, and have software automatically convert this to another language (for my German business partners, for example). Is this still the stuff of science fiction?
We’ve talked before here about language translation software, like Google Translate, that allows you to speak to it in English, and then it converts what you’ve said into another language. This is a great learning tool for learning another language, and it can help in conversation, but it certainly doesn’t do what you’re asking—it doesn’t make it possible to have a live conversation in which the two participants speak different languages.
There are several efforts currently to make this possible, but one that you’re likely to want to try is provided by Microsoft, as part of its Skype software. Skype Translator (as it’s called) isn’t for everyone—it currently only runs on Windows 8 or Windows 10, and it’s not nearly ready for “prime time”—but it could be useful to give the preview version a look. You can find more information here: Using the translator involves installing and configuring Microsoft’s Skype software, and using it to handle your conversation. In theory, once configured correctly, it could perform live language translation for you. It’s worth a look, if this is something that’s important to you.

We certainly haven’t tried it out (we both barely speak English, much less some other language, so it might actually be of benefit), and we’d love to hear of your exploits using Skype Translator, if you get it working. Yes, this is technology that isn’t quite there yet, but Skype Translator may be a good start.

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