06 May 2016

Will Lewis from Microsoft Research will give a talk on Skype Translator. It will be held in TASC1 9204 West on Monday 5/9 at 11am. Will had given one of the first public demos of Skype Translator at SFU in 2014. It is still the only such system widely available to the public. He will update us on new and interesting applications of speech translation enabled by Skype Translator.

The title, abstract and biography of the speaker is given below.

Applications of Open-Domain Speech Transcription and Translation

In the Fall of 2014, I presented MSR’s work on open domain speech translation, which included one of the very first live demonstrations of Skype Translator. In the intervening period, we have continued our work on speech translation, both expanding language coverage and improving quality for existing languages. We have also worked to make Speech Translation a “commodity” in a similar way that we have seen with Machine Translation, specifically by exposing our Speech Translation—which includes Automated Speech Recognition (ASR), TrueText, and Text-to-Speech—in an API, so that any developer or researcher can use the technology in their own tools and environments. In this presentation, I will review our Speech Translation API, show some of the sample tools we have developed using it (including sample code for multiple platforms and environments), and show the work we’re doing by applying ASR and translation in the schools, using it with both Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids and English Language Learners.


William Lewis is Principal Technical Program Manager with the Microsoft Translator team at Microsoft Research. He has led the Microsoft Translator team’s efforts to build Machine Translation engines for a variety of the world’s languages, including threatened and endangered languages, and has been working with the Translator team to build Skype Translator. He has been leading the efforts to support the features that allow deaf and hard of hearing users to make calls over Skype. This work has been extended to the classroom in Seattle Public Schools, where “mainstreamed” deaf and hard of hearing children are using MSR’s speech recognition technology to participate fully in the “hearing” classroom. Before joining Microsoft, Will was Assistant Professor and founding faculty for the Computational Linguistics Master’s Program at the University of Washington, where he continues to hold an Affiliate Appointment, and continues to teach classes on Natural Language Processing. Before that, he was faculty at CSU Fresno, where he helped found the Computational Linguistic and Cognitive Science Programs at the university. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of California Davis and a Master’s and Doctorate in Linguistics, with an emphasis in Computational Linguistics, from the University of Arizona in Tucson. In addition to regularly publishing in the fields of Natural Language Processing and Machine Translation, Will is on the editorial board for the Journal of Machine Translation, is on the board for the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (AMTA), served as a program chair for the National American Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL) conference in June 2015, served as a program chair for the Machine Translation Summit in October 2015, regularly reviews papers for a number of Computational Linguistic conferences, and has served multiple times as a panelist for the U.S. National Science Foundation.