Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

Microsoft prepares beta launch of real-time Skype translator

May 28th, 2014

Microsoft showed off a test version of a real-time, spoken-word translation service for Skype calls and promised the technology would soon be available for public consumption.

Skype Translator allows speakers in different languages to hear the other’s words spoken in their own language, according to a demo introduced by CEO Satya Nadella at the Code Conference in California.

“It is going to make sure you can communicate with anybody without language barriers,” said Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO in February.

Nadella described the underlying technology as “magical,” but said the task now was turn it into a real product rather than just a research project, promising it would launch by the end of the year as a beta app for Windows 8. The company hopes to eventually offer the product across all devices.

He did not say if it would be a free add-on for Skype users or a paid extra.

Immediate reaction to the demo, featuring an English-speaking Microsoft executive chatting with a German counterpart, was mixed. One German-speaking audience member said the translation was good enough for vacation, but not for business.

The new technology, which Microsoft demonstrated in a rougher form 18 months ago in China, could represent a significant feature for its Skype online chat service, which boasts hundreds of millions of users.

It is an advance on Microsoft’s current translation features that only work with written words on its Bing search engine and Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft has been working hard on speech recognition technology for years. Earlier this year it showed off Cortana, its voice-activated “personal assistant” designed to rival Apple’s Siri.


New software lets Skype users maintain eye contact while video chatting

August 29th, 2013

Skype users can now maintain eye contact while chatting – thanks to a new software. Researchers have developed a new software designed to correct the ‘gaze’ of people while video-chatting on Skype, without them having to remember to look at the camera.

Lack of eye contact is said to be a considerable obstacle to the feel of a ‘real’ conversation, researchers said.

This problem arises because the speaker looks mainly at their counterpart’s picture instead of at the camera.

New software lets Skype users maintain eye contact while video chatting

Lack of eye contact is said to be a considerable obstacle to the feel of a ‘real’ conversation, researchers said.

Researchers are now offering a solution to the problem for everyday use: software that recognises the face in the video and rotates it so that the person appears to be looking at the camera.

“We want to make video conference calls as similar as possible to a real meeting,” said Claudia Kuster, a doctoral student at the Computer Graphics Laboratory ETH Zurich.

Until now, only larger companies have been able to afford the luxury of creating artificial eye contact during video conferences; this has required complex mirror systems or several cameras and special software. No satisfactory solution to the problem has existed for private use.

This is now changing thanks to the new software that Kuster has developed under the guidance of Markus Gross, Professor of Computer Science at ETH Zurich.

Thanks to Kinect, a new generation of cameras that collect colour and depth information simultaneously, the system is available for home use.

The software uses a depth map calculated from the image information and a programme that recognises faces in real-time video.

In contrast to previous solutions, Kuster and her colleagues do not turn the entire video image including the background, thus avoiding the problem of missing information in the original image resulting in gaps appearing in the rotated picture.

Instead, her algorithm turns only the face and inserts it seamlessly into the original image. The software looks for a contour around the face in which the border pixel in the original and the corresponding pixel in the rotated image have as many similar colour values as possible.

“The software can be user adjusted in just a few simple steps and is very robust,” said Kuster.

If the programme temporarily loses sight of the face for example, if the person turns their head or disappears behind an object such as a cup the software leaves the original image in place.

The software can cope effortlessly with changing light conditions and even two faces at the same time, as the researchers demonstrated in a video.


Skype Finally Fixes Security Flaw In Its Software

November 15th, 2012

For over two months, there has existed a large security hole in video chatting and messaging service Skype. Until today, hackers could break into any Skype account with only the target’s email address.

Popular Website The Next Web first found mention of the flaw on Russian forums and have been able to replicate it on their own. The Next Web said it was shocking just how easy it was to break into one another’s accounts.

According to The Next Web, all they needed was the email address associated with the target’s account. With this email address in hand, a hacker could simply sign up for a new account with the target’s email address. After a few more “key steps,” the hacker could request a password change, thereby locking out the target from every account associated with that email address. Users could catch these hackers and prevent them from changing their passwords, but only if they acted very quickly. Once the hacker is in the account, they have access to the target’s user name, as well as their address book and contacts. Once the hacker changes the password for the account, these targets are then effectively locked out of their account.

Skype acknowledged the flaw this morning and said they were working to fix it.

“Early this morning we were notified of user concerns surrounding the security of the password reset feature on our website. This issue affected some users where multiple Skype accounts were registered to the same email address. We suspended the password reset feature temporarily this morning as a precaution and have made updates to the password reset process today so that it is now working properly,” said Skype in a statement to The Next Web.

Skype has also said they’ll be working with those users who were affected by the flaw.

Later in the day, Skype issued a new statement saying they had permanently fixed the security flaw. However, any Skype user concerned that their account may still be compromised is encouraged to change their email address associated with their account to a lesser-known, less frequently used address.

To change your email address, login to Skype. Then, click on the “Profile” link under the “account Details” heading, then scroll down to find “Contact Details.” From here, click “Add Email Address.” Add your new, relatively secret email address, then scroll to the bottom and click “Save.” Once this new email address is entered, scroll to the bottom once more and click “Edit.” Find your new email address and choose “Set As Primary Email” to set this address as the address associated with your account.

According to TG Daily, the Russian hackers who found this exploit warned Skype about it months ago. Yet, the company refused to make moves to fix the flaw until today.


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