Microsoft has just announced a new addition to Microsoft Teams that it has developed in partnership with the Welsh government. The new feature makes it easier for organizations and government agencies to host meetings in multiple languages.
This replaces previous temporary solutions that have proven to be a problem to deal with. There is one (rather surprising) catch that Teams users still need to consider when scheduling a meeting – translation is done by human interpreters.
Microsoft announced its latest victory on its official website. This new solution allows designated interpreters to translate during a Teams meeting and allows those attending to choose which language they want to listen to. This invention could potentially greatly improve bilingual meetings, or even those in multiple languages with speakers from all over the world.
Since this feature requires the assistance of human interpreters, it will only serve a purpose during scheduled meetings where those interpreters may be present. In Teams, participants are given the ability to choose the language in real time and switch between languages during the meeting. All of this is supported by the Microsoft Teams app with no additional steps required.
That the feature was implemented in cooperation with the Welsh government is no coincidence. In the blog post, Welsh chief digital officer, Glyn Jones, notes that live interpretation will be crucial to the functioning of government. Wales is bilingual and as such translation services are required for many meetings.
Jones praised the new feature saying, “I don’t think you can underestimate the impact this will have on organizations that operate bilingually or multilingually. We’ve gotten really positive feedback from the people who have tested it with us. The interpreters and the people who are listening love it.”
Local government began using teams in the early 2020s, requiring them to hire interpreters to attend meetings in person. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, translators had to come up with a solution in the form of observing the meeting on Teams and translating via a phone line. According to Aled Jones, co-owner of the translation agency that works with the Welsh government, “It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.”
Jones then called the feature “groundbreaking” because of the fact that everything happens within the same app and Teams is able to provide a smooth, seamless experience where the interpretation doesn’t draw too much attention while still providing an inclusive experience.
While it’s not quite the futuristic live artificial intelligence-based translation that many companies are working on or even already offer, the feature added by Teams sounds like a simple and reliable way to make remote meetings much easier – and that’s always a good thing.