Microsoft delivers 'AI-powered' Presentation Translator add-in for PowerPoint

Microsoft is providing a progress report on its AI efforts across the company and delivering some AI-influenced apps and APIs.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is making generally available a free add-in for PowerPoint that allows presenters and users to take advantage of Microsoft's real-time translation capabilities in creating and/or consuming their presentations.


That's just one of a handful of announcements Microsoft is making at an AI event in London on July 12, where officials are providing an update on the company's work that falls under its AI umbrella.

At the event, Microsoft execs also announced the creation of a new Microsoft Research AI research and incubation hub that will focus on AI theory and practice. The team, which will be based in Redmond, will collaborate with Microsoft's other Research Labs and product groups.

The company also is launching a new "AI for Earth" program that is meant to provide AI tools and skills that are focused on solving global environmental challenges, as well as the creation of an internal Ethical Design Guide for use in building AI products and services.

On the product and services fronts, Microsoft is making the free Presentation Translator add-in for PowerPoint, which officials demonstrated at Build 2017 this year, available for download. The add-in allows users to add subtitles in their presentations in a variety of languages and/or to allow audience members to get subtitles in their desired languages by using the Microsoft Translator app in a browser. Users also have the option to translate slides while preserving their formatting.

Microsoft also released "Seeing AI" as a free app for iOS. This app is meant for blind and low-vision users. It describes nearby people, text, and objects to help those individuals better navigate.

Microsoft also announced at its London AI event general availability and of more of its Cognitive Services, which are application programming interfaces that allow developers to add AI elements to their products and services.

Microsoft is making available a free preview of its Bing Entity Search API and "Project Prague," its gestures software development kit (SDK), which has been in private preview up until today.

In the coming months, Microsoft will be increasing its focus on machine reading, which uses AI techniques to read text. Maluuba, a startup acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, is making progress on this front.

Microsoft created its combined AI + Research Group, headed by Harry Shum, last September. More recently, Microsoft unveiled a new Cloud AI Platform organization, to be led by corporate vice president Joseph Sirosh and which will report directly to Shum. The new Cloud + AI Platform organization will oversee Azure Search, Azure Machine Learning, the Microsoft Bot Framework, R Server, and the Algorithms and Data Science Solution team.

The uber AI + Research group, which is responsible for Bing, Cortana, Azure Machine Learning, and some of Microsoft's research efforts has 7,500 employees, officials said today.

Editorial standards