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Zoom Acquires German Real-Time Translation And Transcription Software Firm

Germany-based Kites works on real-time translation and transcription software.

WASHINGTON — Video conferencing platform Zoom on June 29 said it was acquiring Germany-based Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions, called Kites. The AI start-up that on transcription software and real-time translation systems. 

Zoom did not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.

Zoom’s business was boosted during the Covid-19 pandemic, as people turned to the platform to stay in touch during lockdowns. In March 2020, Zoom saw 200 million daily meeting participants, both free and paid. 

“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,” Velchamy Sankarlingam, president of product and engineering at Zoom, said in the statement.

Zoom said that the acquisition would make communication easier for users who speak different languages and that it’s looking to add translation capabilities to the app.

Zoom already has real-time transcriptions, but it’s limited to people who are talking in English. On its support page, Zoom said its current live transcription feature might not meet certain accuracy requirements.

The company said it’s considering opening a research center in Germany, where the Kites team would be based.

Kites was founded in 2015 by Alex Waibel and Sebastian Stüker, who are also faculty members at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

“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 Waibel and Stüker.

The company has a team of 12 scientists who will work with Zoom’s engineering team to help with multi-language translation capabilities for users.

In June, Zoom announced new features like allowing users to add gender pronouns next to their profile names and introduced custom video filters. Users can also request hosts to enable live transcriptions during a call. 

The company also launched Zoom Phone Appliances, an “all-in-one desk phone” that provides video, audio capabilities, and touch display. 

“Zoom Phone Appliances are always on and always ready for instant communication and collaboration. Easily start ad-hoc or scheduled meetings, make and receive phone calls, check voicemail, and virtually collaborate with content sharing and annotation,” Zoom had said. 

Users can also log in to a Zoom Phone Appliance with a Zoom account to streamline HD video meetings and phone calls. 

Zoom had about 497,000 customers with more than 10 employees at the end of its first quarter ended April 30, 2021, an increase of about 87 percent from the same quarter last fiscal year.

The company’s revenue for the first quarter jumped 191 percent to $956.2 million, and it said it expects total revenue for the fiscal year 2022 to be between $3.975 billion and $3.990 billion. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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