George Takei beams down to Microsoft Research to try out Skype's real-time Translator

Skype is one of the most popular forms of communication across mobile platforms and the desktop. Microsoft Research is working on real-time translation functionality to enable consumers to use Skype and engage in conversation with others from around the world. George Takei, better known as Mr Sulu in Star Trek, visited Microsoft Research to see how the technology works.

Peter Lee, head of Microsoft Research, explained to Takei during his visit what Skype Translator is about and how it has the capabilities to enrich the lives of millions (skip to 3:15). Looking at other projects under way at the company, the USS Enterprise veteran also touches on the new culture at Microsoft and how the company is looking at ways to improve lives, which we've covered in the past.

Takei appeared to be impressed by the translator tech, but would you make use of such a feature in Skype?

Thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Please don't omit this feature from windows mobile platforms Microsoft
  • Windows 10 will be upon us by the time this is ready to be released into the wild, so I'm sure we'll be fine.
  • I wouldn't get my hopes high, Microsoft has a knack for ruining things :(
  • So do YOU apparently... =/ Lol jk =P
  • windows 10 is to have one app store. so updating for one os will be easier for devs snd Microsoft itself.
  • But there is still one most important question: Why would they develop for windows in the first place? Even Microsoft doesn't bother to provide better service on its own platform
  • Looks like a cool feature. I'd use it if I needed it but I don't think it would be a daily use feature for me.
  • This real-time translation technology, if they get it right, will be a game changer, not just for international business, but for consumer use too. International marriages are on the rise, and many extended families cannot communicate with each other. This will facilitate that. It could make Skype one of the most important apps on anyone's devices.
  • Make it global
  • this is one case where not making it global would be stupid. This feature will be a lot more usable across countries
  • Wonder what language Skype thinks in? For example does it go from Spanish to English then to Chinese? Because from a programming standpoint it makes sense to have a "common language"?
  • Translation systems that support more than two languages generally use some kind of intermediate form. Having tried it myself, it gets insanely complicated rather quickly.
  • Yeah that would make more sense. With an intermediate form there would n paths and without there would be n! paths.
  • The "intermediate" form you are talking about would be an implementation of an object oriented programming construct known as an interface or an abstraction. The interface would seamlessly switch to the appropriate language processing code.
  • Pretty sure Skype thinks in 10100010 =P
  • "SSulluuu he star of the shoowww!"
  • That second German sentence was a pretty lousy translation, though :D Don't get me wrong: It is pretty amazing it works this fast and all, but the sentence syntactically was total gibberish and pretty close to being incomprehensible.
  • Man, I've just learned German for 2 months and I'm better than that lol
  • But you don't need an algorithm to interpret speech ;)
  • Ok, but it is not a released feature.
  • Yeah, okay we get it... German is the perfectionist language! lol, I'm totally kidding =P
  • Nice little clip, Thumbs up.
  • Before you know google will have this in next update.. Microsoft will still be in beta testing
  • Don't jinx it lol
  • Stupid comment.
  • You are not necessary... -________-
  • The look on his face when he heard the first sentence translated from German to English in real-time... priceless!!!
  • Meeting women from eastern Europe just got a lot easier for many!
  • I'll finally be able to tell Svetlana I love her...
  • I don't think Svetlana's pimp needs a translation service for the answer...
    Broken legs are understood around the world.
  • Yeah no kidding.  I can't count how many russian girls want to marry me.  Like at lesat 15 a day in my inbox.  Now I'll be able to respond LOL.
  • Yea
  • Skype translator approved by the king of internet memes? Ohhh myyy...
  • Rich Edmonds v těchto sluneční brýle mi připomíná George Michael Víru alba.
  • I would use this on a daily basis, but the beta invite they sent me did not include any of the languages I would need to have translated.  
  • This is the kind of publicity Microsoft desparately needs more of. Great video.
  • Klingon was one of the languages listed after his conversation with the German guy :3
  • I can finally have a japanese girlfriend!
  • Real time language translation is a killer app, and, if it works well, would be a game changer. The problem is that Bing translation is not as accurate as Google translation. I really hope MSFT invest in this as if it is a key battle in the ecosystem war. Loosing here would be a very big blow against the MSFT ecosystem.
  • Future is looking secure for Microsoft. Can't think of anything better than helping the disabled with tech to enable them. Awesome and inspiring work. Take note Apple u greedy skunks