We’ve been following Skype Translator since the summer, when the company revealed a demo video of the real-time translation software. It seemed like science-fiction then, but now a beta version has been rolled out and the first reviews are coming in.
Back in July, we predicted that no matter how powerful Skype’s babel fish software was, it would probably still take some time before human translators and interpreters should start looking for new jobs. A first test on Gizmodo seems to bear this out: “feels like a language assistant,” not like a true translator.
According to Darren Orf, who tested the English-to-Spanish live translation, the software takes some getting used to. You have to speak slowly and make pauses at the right places. Once you get used to this, the recognition is “really quite amazing,” but apparently the machine translation needs some help: the results are “broken” and take some time to decipher. Orf gives a particularly dangerous example of a misunderstanding.
From the sound of it, it’ll be a while before Skype Translator will be ready for professional use — but we’re curious to see this technology progress, and if you’re itching to give it a try, too, you can sign up for the beta now.