MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED the launch of a private beta programme for real-time translation in its Skype subsidiary.
The feature was first trailed at the Re/code Conference in May, and has now reached the stage where it's ready for the great unwashed to get their greedy mitts on it.
Its genesis can be traced back further when a live English to Chinese demonstration was made by the company back in 2012.
Initially, the programme is to be rolled out to Windows 8.1 users on a selective basis. It will allow video calling in a range of languages with the bits you don't understand appearing as instantly translated subtitles in real time.
Anyone interested can register for consideration as a tester, but be prepared to be asked exactly what you plan to use it for, as well as the language you are most interested in.
Yasmin Khan of Microsoft commented: "We have seen tremendous interest and enthusiasm for Skype Translator from around the globe over the last few months and we’re incredibly excited to share it with the world."
Of course, there is always the risk that using automated translation could result in huge misunderstandings.
There is an undetermined myth at Snopes.com which states that the Pepsi slogan, 'Come alive with Pepsi', was misinterpreted in some dialects as 'Pepsi will bring your relatives back from the dead'. And that was without getting emotionless computers involved.
Last week, Microsoft announced plans to bring WebRTC to Internet Explorer, enabling Skype users to tap into the protocol without additional plug-ins.
Using Microsoft translation, the third paragraph of this article turned into Chinese and back again reads: "Initially, the programme is Windows 8.1 users launch on a selective basis. It will allow users to video call in a range of languages and you don't understand as a real-time instant translation of subtitles appears." Quite. µ
They're kind of cute though
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