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Microsoft’s test area ‘Garage’ has released a PowerPoint tool which promises to translate into multiple languages your speech to accompany a presentation.
Presentation Translator translates your spoken remarks and posts them as subtitles on the slide deck.
It does more than show subtitles on the big screen.
Audience members can use their own device to see a translation in their preferred language. The presenter can speak in one language (eg German) with audience members reading sub-titles in any one of 60 languages (eg French, Japanese, Chinese, English etc).
Slide text and notes can be included in the translation.
This is done via the Microsoft Cognitive Services API which is used in Cortana and the new Dictate ‘Speech to Text’ add-in for Word. The engine translates moderately well but responds in ‘fits and starts’ with gaps between streams of translation.
Don’t expect fast real-time translation like Captains Kirk and Picard get! This isn’t a Babel Fish (to switch sci-fi universes).
Download free from Microsoft.
Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Server 2012
PowerPoint 2016 or PowerPoint 2013
Microsoft Office 365 is ‘recommended’ by Microsoft but gives no reason why.
Also needed are:
- Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime
- Visual C++ Redistributable Packages for Visual Studio 2013
- .NET Framework 4.5.2 or newer
The voice and text from a presentation is sent to Microsoft’s servers for translation. Something to keep in mind, especially for confidential briefings.
PowerPoint Translator has some notes about Privacy but it’s not a full, proper disclosure. Note our highlighting.
” A note about privacy
Presentation Translator is powered by machine learning and the voice and text information you provide for translation will be used to improve Microsoft products and services. We protect your privacy by taking steps to de-identify your data and keep it secure.
Presentation Translator lets you broadcast subtitles to anyone with a 5 digit access code that is unique to your presentation. You may block this access to your information by using the “Lock conversation” setting.
Data collected can be used in the development of the service but that’s not all.
More importantly, Microsoft doesn’t say ‘upfront’ other uses of the information you send to them. In particular the ability of government agencies to get the content of presentations, with or without notice to the user or even without a warrant.
Key Features of PowerPoint Translator
The ‘key features’ according to Microsoft:
- Live subtitling: Speak in any of the 10 supported speech languages – Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – and subtitle into any one of the 60+ text translation languages.
- Customized speech recognition: Presenters have the option to customize the speech recognition engine using the vocabulary within the slides and slide notes to adapt to jargon, technical terms, product or place names, etc.
- Translate PowerPoint Text: Translate the text of PowerPoint while preserving the original formatting, including translation between left-to-right and right-to-left languages
- Audience Participation: Share a QR- or five letter conversation code and your audience can follow along with your presentation, on their own device, in their chosen language.
- Open the mic to multi-lingual Q&A: Unmute the audience to allow questions in any of the supported languages (10 for spoken questions, 60+ for written ones)
- Inclusivity through Accessibility: Help audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing follow the presentation, and participate in the discussion.
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