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Skype Labs: Five Years of Innovation

Can you imagine a world without numbers? The Pirahã people, in the northwest jungle of Brazil, have one of the world’s few examples of an anumeric language. Think about how difficult it would be in our everyday lives, or on Skype, to express quantities only through approximations, as do the Pirahã. By looking at a few examples, you’ll see that for us at Skype, anumeracy is not an option.

Here are a few numbers that are particularly important to us: Skype Labs, our in-house innovation hub at Skype, just turned five. In this half decade, we have consistently improved the Skype experience for our more than 300 million monthly users, who use more than two billion minutes of Skype audio and video calls per day.

As with any big birthday, Skype Labs’ anniversary was a special moment to look back at who we are, what we have been up to, and to reminisce on how we have realized our goals to invent, design, implement, and build compelling solutions and experiences for our users.

We are a multicultural and geographically diverse applied research team. In Skype Labs, we have used our expertise in audio, video, computer vision, networking, machine learning, data mining, statistics, and quality of experience to create and deliver some of the fundamental and innovative core technologies that have contributed to Skype’s success.

As a director of research and head of the Skype Labs team, I have had the privilege to lead many of our efforts, apply my prior experience in industry, research and academia, and witness the great changes that our work brings to Skype.

Over the next weeks, we will showcase some of these exciting innovations, which focus on *you* (our users), combine domain knowledge and machine learning, and leverage close collaborations with our product teams.

And because anniversaries are also times to look into the future, we will also give you a hint of the directions in which we continue to invest, including higher interactivity and building a sense of immersiveness. Stay tuned!

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