Skype recently released a preview of its translation service, which will connect folks, speaking in different languages, in conversation.
The current version provides translation services between Spanish and English. Going forward, there are plans to expand dramatically.
It will be interesting to see how this new tool will influence cross-cultural communication. Microsoft (the developers of Skype) have already identified education as a target market due to the appeal of "student pen-pals."
The early tests look promising, but everything we’ve seen so far has been from Skype direct and likely involved a lot of control. The classroom tests in the video above also involve mostly fairly rudimentary translation, so it’ll be very interesting to see how it performs in real-world situations with more complex language. This could be one of the most powerful technologies ever created, if it can live up to the hype, but the real test of its worth begins now.