Getting the most out of Skype Translator

Recently we talked about how Skype Translator can help you communicate in a language other than your own. In my opinion it’s an amazing bit of technology, one of those things that makes you pause and think “I’m living in the future!”

If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a short video to show you how to use it:

Today we’re going to highlight a few tips to help you get the most out of this exciting new feature which is starting to roll out for users of Skype for Windows desktop.

A tale of two technologies

First off, we need to talk a little bit about how Skype Translator works. The magic of it is the result of two bits of technology working in harmony.

The first part is a conversion from speech to text. The words that you speak into your microphone are analyzed and turned into text, much like when you ask Cortana a question in Windows 10 or on your Windows Phone.

Cortana

Cortana also uses speech to text technology

After that, the text is put through the Microsoft Translator engine to change it to your Skype partner’s language.

Improving the speech to text step

Now that you know how the technology works, it’s easy to think of some ways to help make your translations as accurate as possible.

Anything you can do to improve the clarity of your speech is going to help with the first step – converting your words into text. A lot of the tips we’ve mentioned on this blog in the past can help:

  • Use a headset instead of a built-in microphone
  • Limit background noise when calling
  • Call from a comfortable room that doesn’t echo a lot

When using Skype Translator you can also help the accuracy of the speech to text conversion by speaking at an even, deliberate pace and pronouncing your words clearly. It also helps to pause briefly between sentences so Skype doesn’t wait until you’ve finished your whole story before it starts translating.

If you only take one piece of advice from this article, then let it be the headset one. Even if you don’t use Skype Translator that often, the difference it will make to the quality of your Skype calls is huge.

Skype Translator

Improving the translation step

The Microsoft Translator engine uses advanced machine learning technology to constantly improve itself. Just like a living language, it’s always changing.

It already does a remarkable job of translating your voice to numerous different languages – 6 for your voice calls and 50 for your instant messages. But the most accurate translations will be of uncomplicated sentences that don’t use many colloquialisms.

We’re currently working on the ability for you to report incorrect translations which will help speed the machine learning process along even more.

So the best thing you can do to improve the accuracy of Skype Translator is to keep using it as it continues to learn and improve.

***

To put Skype Translator through its paces, you’ll need someone to try it out with. If you’re in need of a few contacts who speak other languages, you’ll definitely find some in the Skype Community.