If you’re a sci-fi fan, then you’ve probably been waiting for the day when a Universal Translator, like that of Star Trek’s, is made – and becomes available to the public. While we won’t probably be facing the need to speak to Klingons, Vulcans, and other species from space in the near future, we do have something that may very well be the precursor of a real life Universal Translator, thanks to Microsoft’s Skype Translator.

During the the inaugural Code Conference (#CodeCon) at Rancho Palos Verdes in California, CEO Satya Nadella demoed the new Skype Translator, which allows cross-lingual conversation in real time. Basically, it means that you can talk to someone who only speaks French while you speak in English without having to look at a dictionary or frantically using Google Translate or some other similar tool.

Skype Translator

Yesterday, the Microsoft Research team also divulged information about the Skype Translator and work that has gone into it. It is interesting to note that this project has been going on for about a decade already – and it’s not yet perfect. Still, thinking about merging technologies together – translation, speech recognition, language processing, and even cloud service – and how they all come together to produce a Universal Translator can easily blow your mind. More than a group of Microsoft Researchers, the contributions of brilliant minds from different parts of the world have made this technology a reality. It really is a universal project if you think about it.

While we may still be far off from the dream of a Star Trek like Universal Translator, this is certainly a step in the right direction. Now, for someone who has not used Skype regularly, I think that I shall be reactivating my credits and hitting up old friends from different parts of the world.

You can see the Skype Translator in action here.

[Image via The Verge]