One year after acquiring MT startup, Zoom launches translation feature

Zoom announced earlier this month that it will be rolling out a machine translation (MT) feature along with a suite of additional offerings in its new Zoom One package.

The announcement comes just about a year after the San Jose-based video communication company acquired Kites, a German startup focused on developing MT solutions. At the time of the acquisition, Zoom’s president of product and engineering said that MT would be the “key in enhancing our platform for Zoom customers across the globe.” Now, Zoom will allow users to translate meetings between English and ten different languages.

Bi-directional translations will be available between English and Simplified Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Dutch, and Ukrainian — it’s likely however, that the company will add more languages to its offerings. In September 2021, the company announced that it was planning to launch a translation feature for 12 languages. To start out, the translation feature will only be available for users who purchase the Business Plus, and Enterprise Plus packages of Zoom One.

As users speak in one of the above languages, translated captions will appear at the bottom of the window — at the moment, Zoom only allows for direct translation between English and another language.

Zoom One allows users to access much of Zoom’s features — text chat, video and phone calls, and the whiteboard — within a single offering. Along with the aforementioned options, users can also access a Basic version for free, and Pro, Business, and Enterprise versions as well. These, however, do not have access to the translation feature at the moment.

“As the Zoom platform has evolved from a meeting app to a comprehensive communications platform, it was clear that introducing new packaging like Zoom One was the next step in the company’s evolution,” Greg Tomb, Zoom’s president said.

In addition to the translation feature, Zoom is also expanding its automatic captioning technology to include more languages. While the platform originally only supported live transcription in English, Zoom One’s Business Plus, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus versions will also include the ability to access live transcriptions in ten new languages.

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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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