Zoom says its real-time translation function will be up and running next year for 12 languages.
The company demoed the feature Monday during its annual Zoomtopia event, and argued that it’ll help break down language barriers during video calls. In the demo, Zoom employees spoke English, and the video-conferencing app translated the words in real-time using subtitles written in Japanese and then Chinese. Another employee then spoke German, and the app translated the words into English.
The technology uses AI-powered algorithms to transcribe what a speaker is saying into text. Zoom then uses machine translation programs to convert the text into another language.
The real-time translation function comes from a German startup called Kites, which Zoom acquired in June. Zoom hasn’t specified which 12 languages the feature will support, but Portuguese and Korean were also featured in the demo. Zoom also didn’t say if it will charge for the translation features.
The other big feature coming to Zoom is an expansion of the app’s automated transcription service to 30 other languages. Currently, the feature only supports real-time transcription for the English language, but once activated, it can offer a closed-captioning service, making it ideal for users who are hearing impaired.
However, free users have to request access to real-time transcriptions. Otherwise, you’ll need a paid Zoom account with the cloud recording feature bundled in. Zoom tells us it plans to “begin testing and releasing automated transcription and live translation starting early next year.”
The company is also working on a feature to detect hand gestures in a video call and translate them into emoji-like reactions during a Zoom session. The gesture-recognition technology is already available on iPads, but Zoom plans on expanding it to all platforms. The feature currently can recognize a thumbs up and raised hand gesture.