Leveraging language diversity: Microsoft employees hacking for good

Several projects during this week’s annual Hackathon for Microsoft employees focused on using machine translation technology from Microsoft Translator to connect people around the world—whether in business contexts or to help travelers communicate more easily.
One of the projects—HackForGoodgoes beyond just the technology. It aims at leveraging internal Microsoft employees’ language skills to help non-profits such as Translators Without Borders get information distributed faster in areas where critical information is not available in the local language.
The idea behind the HackForGood project is to leverage the diversity of Microsoft employees’ native language and combine this expertise with the custom machine translation engines that are enabled by Microsoft’s Translator hub. “Microsoft speaks every language that our customers do; we’re obviously a very diverse company,” says Paige Williams, director of global readiness for Microsoft.
With over 117,000 employees worldwide, and 57,000 of them outside the US, Microsoft has a huge pool of native-speakers in other languages than English. The project aims at mobilizing some of these native-speakers to both help develop local language technologies and to invite them to contribute in crisis situations.
Microsoft’s annual Hackathon, which took place this week, gives Microsoft employees the opportunity to think outside the box, to dream big and try to make their ideas a reality.
Read the full story about the “HackForGood” project on the Microsoft News Center, and learn more about Microsoft’s Hackathon 2015 on the Microsoft Fire Hose blog.

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