October 16, 2021

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Zoom Communications Announces Acquisition of AI-based Startup Kites GmbH to offer Real-Time Translation for Video Calls

Zoom Communications Announces Acquisition of AI-based Startup Kites GmbH to offer Real-Time Translation for Video Calls

Video conferencing platform, Zoom Communications, Inc. on Tuesday announced acquisition of an AI start-up, Kites GmbH, which develops real-time Machine Translation (MT) solutions. According to Zoom this acquisition will add translational capabilities to the platform and allow the video conferencing app to facilitate easy communication between users who communicate in different languages.

Kites GmbH, also known as Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions, was founded in 2015 and its system was primarily developed for academic purposes with an aim to facilitate in-class translation for individuals who needed assistance in understanding the languages, such as German or English, the professors were teaching in. Later, the focus of the company shifted from purely academic tool to a broader, AI-driven translation framework. According to the company, considering the recognition aspect, the system has only 5% error rate and with 1 second lag in speech. Kites will leverage its predictive AI technology, which is built in-house and runs on cloud or on-premise, to provide comprehensive translation accuracy having low latency. Translated text and speech will appear in real-time – before the speakers finish talking – and will also self-correct if any upgraded translation is identified after additional speech is spoken. Kites was established by Alex Waibel and Sebastian Stüker, who were members of the faculty at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Alex Waibel also founded C-STAR, which is an international group of speech translation research. After the definitive agreement is signed, Alex Waibel will join Zoom’s research team and spearhead Zoom’s machine translational R&D. Zoom is planning to open a research and development center in Germany and the Kites team will be stationed there.

Zoom is already equipped with real-time transcriptions on its platform, including Ligmo and Wordly, which understands and translates multiple languages. A universal translation function will make Zoom an integral part of the international exchanges where more often than not language is a barrier.