Video conferencing platform vendor Zoom has acquired German start-up Karlsruhe Information Technology Solutions – known as Kites – in a bid to imbue its offering with real-time language translation capabilities.
Founded in 2015 by Alex Waibel and Sebastian Stüker – both faculty members at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology – Kites specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) speech translation. The commercial application of the Kites real-time translation platform has, until now, been largely used for academic lecture and government purposes.
“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 in a joint statement.
“We know Zoom is the best partner for Kites to help advance our mission and we are excited to see what comes next under Zoom’s incredible innovation engine,” the pair added.
Under the terms of the deal, Kites’ existing team of 12 research scientists will help Zoom’s engineering team advance the field of machine translation (MT) to improve meeting productivity and efficiency by providing multi-language translation capabilities for Zoom’s users.
Stüker and the rest of the Kites team will remain based in Karlsruhe, Germany, with Zoom now exploring the possibility of opening a research and development (R&D) centre in Germany in the future.
The US-based Waibel, meanwhile, will become a Zoom Research Fellow, a role in which he will advise on Zoom’s MT research and development.
According to Velchamy Sankarlingam, Zoom president of product and engineering, MT solutions will be key in the vendor’s efforts to enhance its platform for users around the world.
“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,” he said.
In the newly created post, Kapur will report to the video conferencing vendor's head of international, Abe Smith, and will be responsible for defining its go-to-market strategy for key APAC markets including Australia and New Zealand, ASEAN, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Korea and Taiwan.