Microsoft’s new HoloLens hologram tech can do language translation

Microsoft HoloLens 2
Microsoft HoloLens 2/Microsoft

Not only is it possible to have a fairly realistic holographic replica of yourself, but Microsoft has just shown that it is also possible to have that same replica speak in different languages, too.

According to The Verge, on Wednesday, July 17, Microsoft provided a demo of this latest innovation during its keynote speech at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference in Las Vegas. Tom Warren of The Verge posted a video clip on YouTube of Microsoft’s demonstration of the hologram’s language translation capabilities.

Microsoft’s demonstration of the technology included Azure executive Julia White, a HoloLens 2 headset, and White’s hologram. White’s hologram began as a small green outline of a hologram that White could hold in her hand, but as soon as she uttered two simple words, “render keynote,” the small hologram grew into a fully rendered, human-sized replica of White and immediately began delivering the keynote speech in Japanese, in a voice that still matched White’s.

According to the keynote, this new language translation technology was made possible by “artificial intelligence technology called Neural Text to Speech or Neural TTS.” As The Verge notes, “a personalized voice signature” was developed from recordings of White’s voice. This voice signature is what allows White’s hologram to sound like she speaks fluent Japanese even though, as she readily admitted in the keynote speech, White doesn’t actually speak Japanese.

While it’s unlikely that this latest development in Microsoft’s hologram tech will be commercially available anytime soon, the possibilities for its use are intriguing as it could have far-reaching effects on communications, travel, and international business. In addition, it also appears — at least according to a website Microsoft has devoted to promoting the device — that the HoloLens 2 itself may be geared primarily for businesses, as many of the apps and solutions developed for the headset are designed for use in workplaces rather than at home.

For example, each of the three Dynamics 365 apps described as being “business-ready” for HoloLens 2 serves a different workplace function: Remote Assist allows for remote work and collaboration, Guides helps train employees, and Layout allows for the design of new spaces and walking through them “at real-world scale.”

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