Zoom is buying a startup to bring real-time translation to video calls

About a dozen experts in machine learning translation work at Kites.

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Igor Bonifacic
June 29, 2021 2:48 PM
Rear view of a businesswoman having a meeting with team over a video conference in office board room. Meeting over a video call in office post pandemic lockdown.
Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

Zoom announced today it plans to acquire Karlsruhe Information Technology, a German startup that specializes in machine learning-based real-time translation. Also known as Kites, the company is made up of about a dozen researchers with ties to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Zoom didn’t share the financial terms of the deal, but did disclose that the startup will help it bring machine translation features to its platform. Moving forward, Zoom says it may also establish a research and development center in Germany.

“We are continuously looking for new ways to deliver happiness to our users and improve meeting productivity, and [machine translation] solutions will be key in enhancing our platform for Zoom customers across the globe,” said Velchamy Sankarlingam, president of product and engineering at Zoom.

Critically, the acquisition should help the company keep pace with competitors like Cisco, which recently added a real-time translation feature to its Webex software. While Zoom experienced impressive uptake throughout the pandemic, its rivals have tried to match and surpass its feature set as a way to grow at its expense.

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