Skype Will Soon Get Real-Time, Translated Voice Calls

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For those who struggle to have a real-time phone conversation with someone who speaks a different language than you, Microsoft (MSFT) has been imagining it and will soon introduce software to make it happen.

At the Re/Code conference last night, CEO Satya Nadella announced its new system, called Skype Translator, which will bring near-instantaneous, two-way voice translated conversations to Skype later this year.

Microsoft stock was off 0.12% to $40.14 in pre-market trading in New York on Wedcnesday.

The technology behind the new feature comes from the work Microsoft has been working on in its research labs utilizing both its Bing and Skype technologies. The new translation system is based on the company's voice recognition engine called Cortana. Cortana is currently part of the beta software being tested for the next upgrade to the Windows Phone operating system, Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to be released in the next month or so.

Nadella said Microsoft plans to introduce the new feature on as many instances of both hardware and software as possible. In our preliminary testing, the Cortana voice recognition system works very, very well on both older phones (Nokia Lumia 520) as well as much higher-end newer models, such as the terrific Lumia 1520 tablet/phone.

On the company's official blog Nadella said the new translation system is part of Microsoft's evolution into "a more personal, more human era of computing."

Skype has more than 300 million connected users, creating more than 2 billion minutes of conversations each day. Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President of Skype and Lync noted the new Skype Translator should help to add to those numbers by breaking down current language barriers.

The new two-way translation system will support as many as 40 languages upon release. A beta version of Skype Translate is expected later this year.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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Gary Krakow is TheStreet's Senior Technology Correspondent.

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