Microsoft has made its Presentation Translator feature for PowerPoint open to the public. The PowerPoint add-in is designed to add real-time captions to a live presentation in a wide variety of languages, using the power of machine learning.
Users can now download the add-in, which works with PowerPoint 2013 and 2016 on Windows. When users start a presentation, they can speak in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, and listeners can see content translated into one of more than 60 different languages.
The feature is designed to make it easier to overcome language barriers during key presentations and can also help people who are deaf or hard of hearing understand what’s being said, since it will convert speech to text on the fly.
Presentation Translator was first announced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference earlier this year.
It’s based on the tech titan’s past investments in the translation space, including its Microsoft Translator service and mobile app that can perform translations between languages in real time. That same system, which is available as one of Microsoft’s Cognitive Services through its cloud platform, underpins Presentation Translator.
Making translation available for its customers has been a key focus for Microsoft. The company previously launched a Skype Translator feature that lets participants in a video call see and hear a machine translation of the words they’re saying.
The news is part of a broader set of AI announcements the company made at an event in London today. In addition, Microsoft is bringing together a dedicated research team of 100 people to work on key AI problems, including advancing general artificial intelligence, human and AI collaboration, and ethical issues around integrating AI into society.
Microsoft is also unveiling a new AI for Earth program to provide cloud services and AI tools to organizations that are looking to tackle problems like climate change and biodiversity. The company has committed to pouring $2 million into the program, which will also include training on the use of AI in those applications.