This is an interesting development - this week, Microsoft is rolling out new, AI-powered live captions for Skype calls in order to provide more utility within the popular live-connection tool.
As explained by Microsoft:
"Skype has been hard at work at making our features more inclusive, and live captions and subtitles are just one way we made Skype calls more accessible. Simple settings allow you to turn them on for a single call or keep them turned on for all your calls. Live captions and subtitles are optimized to be fast, continuous, and contextually updated as people speak."
Other platforms have offered live captions for some time, but not through automated means - on Facebook Live, for example, you can upload an SRT file of pre-made captions to go along with your video. Skype is among the first to offer real-time, automated translation, which, if it works well, could be a big stepping stone in the evolution of live speech-to-text translation.
But that's a big if - in most cases, speech-to-text tools work well when 'trained' to a single users' voice, and they can function reasonably well on one-to-one calls. But Microsoft is also making them available in group calls, which, you would expect, would not have a high level of accuracy. But only time, and testing, will tell.
Either way, the fact that we're moving into the next stage of automated speech-to-text development is significant, and it'll be interesting to see how this is refined and used in future applications.
In addition to this, Microsoft is also looking to release translations which will support over 20 languages and dialects in the coming weeks.
"Whether you’re learning a new language, having a tough time understanding your friend from across the world, or attending a meeting that's not in your native tongue, our new translations will help keep you up to speed."
If you use Skype, it may be worth testing out the new option and seeing how accurate and effective the translations are.
Skype live captions are being rolled out over the coming weeks, instructions on how to enable the option can be found here.