Skype are all set to launch a service called ‘Skype Translator’. While other similar technologies already exist, such as Call Interpreter by Lexifone, the service from Skype will make it more accessible and available to more people. It will work in a similar way to interpreter technologies that have been used for people in the same room as each other for quite some time. One person will speak in one language, allowing a device to record the call and when they’ve finished speaking, they indicate this with the push of a button and the technology should translate the conversation, then the next person to speak continues to respond using the same method.
However! We would strongly advise against using technologies like this, either online or offline for corporate situations. Even for casual conversations with friends or loved ones, translation technologies can never capture and accurately translate in the way a human interpreter would. Even an interpreter with limited expertise and experiences would be better posed to understand the nuances, the tone and the point and relay an interpretation appropriate to the conversation. They also have the ability to check things they’re unsure of – an automatic device won’t stop to consider these things! If you don’t believe us, try out google translate for some written auto-translations with someone native to a language you’re translating to. You may find some funny or some worrying discrepancies. Though it’s definitely useful for the times you want to double check things.