Zoom Explores Translation Options, Acquires MT Start-up

The digital communications platform Zoom announced that it is currently in the process of acquiring Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions (Kites), an artificial intelligence (AI)-focused start-up based in Germany. Kites’ main focus is developing machine translation (MT) engines and transcription systems, and Zoom hopes to take advantage of the start-up’s research to allow users to benefit from native translation and transcription capabilities, according to a blog post published June 29.

“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, Zoom’s president of product and engineering, in the blog post. “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.”

Kites was founded back in 2015, by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT); the founders originally established Kites in order to develop technology that could help students at KIT understand their professors, who conduct class in both English and German. The start-up’s team of researchers will continue to work out of their offices in Karlsruhe, Germany while working to develop technology that will improve “meeting productivity and efficiency” by allowing for multilingual meetings to take place more easily on the platform.

“Kites emerged with the mission of breaking down language barriers and making seamless cross-language interaction a reality of everyday life, and we have long admired Zoom for its ability to easily connect people across the world,” said Dr. Alex Waibel and Dr. Sebastian Stüker, co-founders of Kites. “We are excited to see what comes next under Zoom’s incredible innovation engine”

Zoom has of course seen a significant amount of growth over the last year and a half, thanks to a large increase in users of the platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the spring of 2020, the platform has largely become the app of choice for workplaces, universities, and conferences needing to conduct remote events or meetings, and as a result, the company’s stock remains at a much higher value than its pre-pandemic value.

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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