KUDO showcases AI-powered speech-to-speech translation tool at launch event

On Jan. 24, KUDO held a launch event announcing its forthcoming artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech-to-speech translation tool, KUDO AI.

The tool will soon be available on the New York-based language service provider’s interpreting platform. At first, KUDO’s speech translator will only be available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and German, however the company says that it will update the tool to offer new languages bi-weekly. At the launch event on Tuesday, the company’s leadership conducted a demonstration of KUDO AI.

“This is in line with our vision to make every meeting more inclusive, more productive, and truly global,” said the company’s chief language officer and co-founder, Ewandro Magalhães, at the event. 

The company anticipates that KUDO AI will be available commercially in March. Unlike other speech-to-speech translation tools, KUDO AI will produce simultaneous translations of spoken language, rather than the less seamless sentence-by-sentence translations that other forms of this technology often produce. While KUDO AI will first launch as a pilot program via the KUDO platform, the company notes that it plans to bring it to partner platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

According to a press release announcing KUDO AI, the tool will be equipped with technology that analyzes a speaker’s voice in real-time — as the tool improves, this technology will allow users to customize voices and control speech fluency.

“We created a system that analyzes speech structure in real time,” Dr. Claudio Fantinuoli, the company’s head of innovation, said at the launch event. “During this real-time process we reformulate the speech and make it more structured.”

At the launch event, KUDO’s leadership acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite perfect — for instance, there can be a bit of a delay if speakers are talking too quickly. At the same time, the company believes KUDO AI has significant potential, with the company’s CEO and co-founder Fardad Zabetian calling it a “paradigm shift … in multilingual communication.”

“Let’s give everyone the power to understand, and be understood, in their own language,” Zabetian told those in attendance at the event. 

Despite its capabilities, KUDO emphasizes the fact that its new technology will never be able to replace human interpreters. Magalhães said that, as an interpreter, he was a bit skeptical of KUDO AI at first, but soon opened up to it as he began using it. In the press release, he added that the tool will provide basic language access services for cases in which a human interpreter might be too costly or impractical to work with.

“In many use cases, this is no substitute for human interpreters,” Magalhães said in the press release. “A skilled linguist can read the audience in ways a machine cannot, derive meaning from intonation, accommodate sarcasm, and make adaptations and corrections as (s)he goes along.”

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Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is a writer from Sacramento. He received his B.A. in linguistics and English from UCLA and is currently working toward an M.A. in applied linguistics at Columbia University. His writing has been published in Language Magazine, Sactown Magazine, and The Takeout.

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