Skype rolls out AI captioning for those with hearing difficulties

Skype is just the first MS Office app to be given the tool with PowerPoint slated to be next

Connor Jones
4 Dec 2018
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Skype has announced new AI-driven captions to work on the latest version of its software, for both one-to-one conversations and group calls, with the same technology being rolled out to PowerPoint early next year.

Microsoft confirmed the plans yesterday, which was the United Nations International Day for Persons with Disabilities. With inclusivity and ease of use in mind, Skype now supports live captions and subtitles to help those who are deaf or hard of hearing connect with the people in their life, be it a family catch-up or an important meeting at work.

The feature can be activated on a call-by-call basis through the in-call screen or simply set to activate by default by changing the settings under Settings | Calling | Call Subtitles, and then toggling "Show Subtitles" for all voice and video calls.

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At the moment, the captions and subtitles will auto-scroll in the in-call screen, like a livestream chat feed. Skype promises new viewing options will be made available soon, including the ability to scroll through them at one's own pace in a side window. Translation support for more 20 languages will also be included in the near future.

The same AI-driven subtitle technology will also be applied to Microsoft PowerPoint in Early 2019 for Office 365 subscribers running Windows 10, according to a recent statement.

The tech will be even more advanced than Skype's, providing not only real-time captions and subtitles but also automatically translating them depending on the native language of the audience. This will enable everyone, of all nations, cultures and hearing abilities to thoroughly engage in presentations.

At launch, the tech will support 12 spoken languages and display on-screen captions or subtitles in one of more than 60 languages.