Zoom acquired a real-time machine translation company called Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions – Kites. The company hopes to use Kites resources to improve conference productivity and efficiency on Zoom by providing users with real-time multilingual translation capabilities. Zoom stated, “Kites’ talented team of 12 research scientists will help its engineering team advance the development of machine translation.” Kites was founded in 2015 and the company was co-founded by Dr. Alex Waibel and Dr. Sebastian Stüker.
The company has not announced the financial details of the acquisition, but it has confirmed that Dr. Stüker and other members of the Kites team will remain in Karlsruhe, Germany. Zoom plans to invest and develop the team there, and will even explore opening an R&D center in Germany at some point in the future. The company mentioned in its blog post that Dr. Waibel will become a Zoom researcher and he will provide advice on Zoom’s machine translation research and development.
Kites started its journey by developing classroom translation tools for students who need help understanding the English or German spoken by the professor during university lectures. It is said that the Kites app is now “intuitive, accurate and full of advanced features.” It integrates seq2seq technology and predictive AI to achieve fast and accurate translation. The company stated on its website: “In fact, transcripts and translated text appear before the speaker completes a sentence, and/or self-correct if further context requires a better explanation.
Zoom launched real-time transcription for all users earlier this year. However, the company stated on its support page that “real-time transcription” currently only supports English, and it recommends that users speak clearly for best results. It is said that the accuracy of Zoom’s real-time transcription function also depends on many variables, such as background noise, the volume and clarity of the speaker’s voice, the speaker’s proficiency in English, and geographic or community-specific dictionaries and dialects. The intelligent integration of Kites may improve Zoom’s translation capabilities.
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