Kudo, the new SaaS platform set to transform interpretation services

A completely new SaaS interpretation and collaboration platform is now available to AV integrators. Anna Mitchell learns more from Fardad Zabetian founder, developer and CEO of KUDO.

Most of us now communicate using video via applications such as Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime on a regular basis and with little thought. But it wasn’t that long ago that video- conferencing was the preserve of high level corporate meetings. 

Now that we take video communication for granted, the focus is on offering high quality experiences to people using these tools on an ad-hoc basis in their professional and personal lives. 

But while audio and video quality, as well as ease of connectivity, are reaching very high standards, there’s still a crucial aspect of many meetings that is struggling to make its way out of the preserve of formalised conferencing and congress spaces. 

Interpretation. Very often it’s vital, but it’s expensive and it’s hard to implement on meetings with remote participants. That’s something that Fardad Zabetian is now challenging with new collaboration platform KUDO. 

KUDO is based on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. While there are numerous collaboration systems available, and even some platforms that provide different language streams, KUDO is different in the fact it allows two-way interpretation between multiple languages. 

It is totally web-based, requires no plug-ins or extensions and has a mobile app. It offers HD video and audio. 

Zabetian had to overcome technological and cultural challenges to bring it to market. As Wi-Fi and broadband quality and reach increased he was able to push the concept to the cloud with great success, but he still had to bring a key part of the equation on board – the all- important interpreters. 

“Without the interpreters, no multilingual collaboration platform will work, no matter how advanced,” he explains. 

“We tackled and fixed the audio issue first, through strong and steady streaming technology. We then addressed the language issue, through multiple audio streams juggled in a myriad of combinations as more languages were added to the mix.” 

In an effort to make sure he had interpreters onside, alongside building a team of skilled developers, Zabetian recruited Ewandro Magalhaes, a former chief interpreter at the United Nations (UN). 

One thing Zabetian is keen to stress is that the product is not designed to take business from the large formal meeting spaces that rely heavily on professional interpretation services. Zabetian is also the man behind Media Vision – the company that has for many years represented and helped deploy Taiden conferencing equipment throughout North America and Europe and he says he’s not about to go into competition with himself. 

“KUDO has a few very specific applications,” he explains. “You can accommodate last minute speakers who missed their flights or cannot travel; you can source interpreters remotely for meetings in underserved locations; you can combine conventional and cloud-based systems in a hybrid set up; you can stream the contents of a meeting, including language, to people anywhere in the world.” 

“Without the interpreters, no multilingual collaboration platform will work, no matter how advanced.”

The latest development, and one we can exclusively announce in this interview, is a new structure for KUDO that rewards integrators for deploying it as part of a meeting room technology set up. 

KUDO will now power what Zabetian is dubbing a “language ready room”. 

“This is all based on the KUDO box,” explains Zabetian. “That’s just a Mac mini or an Intel Mini PC that is preconfigured to run the KUDO application. The integrator can then sell KUDO on an annual subscription fee with a dedicated account for the end user to be able to schedule interpreters for the room.” The fee for the end client remains the same, while the integrator takes an ongoing cut. 

The technology is pioneering in what it offers the end client, bringing interpretation to locations that were perhaps too small or remote to warrant it before. It widens not just corporate and education markets, but opens up hotels, conference centres, serviced offices and so much more. 

KUDO is also interesting because it is a big jump (in the right direction) for integrators in terms of mind set. For years this industry has struggled to sell software. Very often it’s a free add on to hardware and, even when it’s not, establishing recurring revenue from licensing is a model that’s proving tricky to push. 

The more that developers of systems like KUDO include and incentivise integrators in their plans to bring SaaS platforms to market, the quicker the industry will get to the place it needs to be in an increasingly software dominated world. 

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