Sunday, February 21, 2016

Skype Translator

Communicating with people who speak different languages has always been a problem. There are many dictionaries and translators, which can help with this problem, but it disrupts the fluency of the conversation and limits what each person is able to say. Microsoft, however, is working on a solution to this problem by releasing a new technology that acts as a translator while video chatting. Not only does it translate what each person is saying in a caption, but it will also read it aloud in order for the conversation to be more real and fluid. People will be able to view and hear the conversation in their native language without having to spend time translating it for themselves. In order to work this new feature a Skype user will have to click the globe on the top right of the conversation before they begin a conversation and then they will be able to speak to others using their own language.
            This breakthrough makes it easier for people to speak with people from all around the world and have real conversations that may not have been possible before. While this is a large step towards the elimination of language barriers, the technology is still a work in progress. The article “Star Trek-like universal translator comes to Skype” discusses how the Skype Translator is only available for those with a Microsoft device. So if both people have a different type of device they will not be able to use it. Also, there are still minor issues with speed, as the system works to translate what the person is saying, and there are currently only six languages that are available in the video chat version. Another problem that was mentioned is that the technology occasionally has difficulties and will translate something in a different way than originally intended. The article, however, stated that as people use the translator more, it gets better at detecting words and meanings.
            While the article clearly described the advantages of the new technology as well as some of the minor setbacks, it was unclear whether or not Microsoft was working on a way to solve some of the problems. The article failed to mention whether new languages would soon be available with the video chat version. Also it was not mentioned whether it would be released for those using other operating systems in the future. Another concern that I had while reading the article was that it described how people had been using the preview version, which had been released earlier, but it did not clarify whether the real version had been released or when it would be.

News, Good. "Star Trek-like Universal Translator Comes to Skype." CNNMoney. Cable News Network. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

"Skype Translator." Skype Translator. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Instant translating technology for video chat makes sense in the future and is something that might be successful in the long term, but is not something I can see working well at the moment. First, translating programs are largely inaccurate. Everyone at Loyola has had to take a Language and we all know you can’t just write an essay in English then Google translate it for a class because it never ends up making sense. There are often multiple meanings for words, phrases that just don’t translate and many other alterations that lead to errors. Until the translating technology is improved on messages will frequently be misinterpreted, which is business can lead to major problems and losses. Second, voice recognition software has been widely disappointing. How often does Siri mess up your command? Have you ever tried youtube subtitles? They are hilariously inaccurate at recognizing what a human voice is saying. Even if the translation part was flawless, recognizing the user’s voice in the original language could lead to errors. For both these reasons, I feel like no important meetings can be done this way. There is just far too much potential for error. Like I said though it is a really good idea and something I expect to see improved upon, but definitely do not expect to be using this type of software anytime soon.


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