Zoom to acquire German startup to bring real time translation to meetings

Popular video conferencing app Zoom is all set to acquire Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions kites, a Germany-based start-up dedicated to developing real-time Machine Translation. The company, also known as Kites, consists of a team of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Zoom did not reveal the value of the deal but revealed that it will help the company’s engineering team improve meeting productivity and efficiency by providing multi-language translation capabilities for Zoom users.

Talking about the new acquisition, Velchamy Sankarlingam, President of Product and Engineering at Zoom, said, “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. With our aligned missions to make collaboration frictionless regardless of language, geographic location, or other barriers we are confident Kites’ impressive team will fit right in with Zoom.”

German Start up Kites was founded in 2015 in association with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. It was founded by Dr Alex Waibel and Dr Sebastian Stüker, who are also the faculty members of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. A team consisting of 12 research scientists from the institution will help the Zoom engineering team advance the field of MT to improve meeting productivity and efficiency by providing multi-language translation capabilities for users.

“We have long admired Zoom for its ability to easily connect people across the world. We know Zoom is the best partner for Kites to help advance our mission, and we are excited to see what comes next under Zoom’s incredible innovation engine,” The Kites co-founders Dr Waibel and Dr Stuker said.

Zoom presently has the real-time transcription feature; it is only limited to English-speaking users. But with the latest collaboration with German-based start-up, Zoom eyes to add more languages to this feature. In February 2021, Zoom announced that it is working towards making automatic closed captioning also known as “Live Transcription” available to all users by the end of 2021. The feature will be free for users who fill up the access form requesting live transcription.

Zoom also shared its plans of opening a research centre in Germany, which will be inhabited by the researchers of Kites.

StAker and the rest of the Kites team will remain based in Karlsruhe, Germany, where Zoom looks forward to investing in growing the team.

Zoom is exploring opening an R&D centre in Germany in the future. Waibel will become a Zoom Research Fellow, a role in which he will advise on Zoom’s MT research and development.

While gathering considerable popularity and coming to run profitably in the following years, Zoom truly entered the public consciousness during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. It was via Zoom that people across the world turned to stay in touch during the lockdown effected to stop the spread of the virus.

Prior to founding Zoom, Yuan had helped to build WebEx, in the decade prior to its acquisition by Cisco in 2007.

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