Zoom acquires startup to help bring improved real-time translation to video calls

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Zoom has announced it will be acquiring Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions, a startup that focuses on real-time translation.

Known as Kites, the German company originally developed its machine learning technology to aid classroom students being taught in English.

Now, Zoom indicates the technology will help it deliver improved communication between people who speak different languages. 

The video conferencing platform does already allow for real-time transcriptions, though these are limited to people who talk in English – and even Zoom itself through its support page that current transcriptions may not be accurate.

The hope, we expect, is that Kites can help elevate Zoom’s translation to the next level. 

“We are continuously looking for new ways to deliver happiness to our users and improve meeting productivity, and MT solutions will be key in enhancing our platform for Zoom customers across the globe,” said Velchamy Sankarlingam, president of product and engineering at Zoom in the company’s official announcement.

Naturally, with uptake increasing dramatically over the past 12 – 18 months due to the global pandemic, the purchase is also very much about maintaining the momentum and staying ahead of rivals. Cisco’s Webex, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams all still all very viable alternatives for businesses to consider, and the battle for dominance over the video conferencing space is far from over.

No financial terms were outlined in the announcement, though Zoom did note that the Kites team will be staying in Germany following the acquisition, where it is also considering opening a research centre.

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