Microsoft is attempting to integrate natural language processing and real-time translation into Skype for Business, according to a report on PCWorld.com.
The company is said to be using its Bing Translator engine to support a number of supported languages.
If it works, users will be able to speak in one of the languages and see it being translated on the fly into one of other available languages.
Users may also simply want to use the feature to enable other users who may be hard of hearing to see the text of what they are saying.
Microsoft has not said when the feature — which it calls Skype Meeting — will be available, neither has it stated which languages will be supported.
It has, however, already introduced Translator to Skype, which live-transcribes person-to-person calls and text messages. PCWorld.com says this is a pared-down version of Skype Meeting.
Natural language procession, or NLP, is believed to be one of the most difficult challenges for programmers because everyone speaks differently, which makes it difficult for Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri and a whole range of artificially intelligent assistants to go mass-market and be genuinely useful.
It is believed that even if the problem is solved to some extent, it will require the user to speak to the assistant over a period of time before the system recognises and understands what is being said, and responds appropriately.
Text-based virtual assistants, such as the ones being developed x.ai, are likely to become more widely adopted much earlier as text is more precise and the computer does not need to handle variations in voice tone and different accents and so on.
And it follows that text-based translators such as the Bing Translator and Google Translate are more accurate when processing and interpreting language.