Stefanini Creates Real-Time Video Language Translation Tool with Microsoft
By Laura Cowan
Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets.
Voicero allows Microsoft Teams meetings to translate audio on live calls into 20 different languages to help teams collaborate across language barriers and international borders.
Many professionals have been in remote meetings since the pandemic hit, which has highlighted the need for a translation tool that works in real time for international companies. Stefanini has just created an AI-leveraged simultaneous translation tool with Microsoft to serve their multi-national teams collaborating over technology. We sat down with Alex Winetzki, Woopi CEO and Director of R&D at Stefanini Group, to ask about how this partnership came together and how it can work for global teams.
The tool is called Voicero. Winetzki says the Voicero project started because their own teams at Stefanini didn't speak the same languages. "We operate in 42 countries," he says, "so our people don't know how to speak languages of others. English is the most used language, so we thought maybe we could do something to make communication easier.
"We decided to try technology because we have been working with AI for many years," Winetzki explains. "As you have seen this technology has been giving us some amazing achievements in the last three to four years. We wanted to find out if AI could be used for making translation simple or easy enough to make it possible for people to use for conferences."
The team started to develop the product. They decided to show another multi-national corporation, Microsoft, and they were receptive to the potential the technology had to facilitate meetings between people who have meetings on Microsoft Teams every day.
"We want to create a seamless integration with the [Teams] platform, so we’re working on a collaboration with them," Winetzki says. "The reception has been fantastic, all over the world, even in places we did no marketing. We feel now we have created something valuable for people and are working hard to improve the experience."
Voicero can translate 20 languages in real time for meetings on Microsoft Teams.
Here's how the Voicero translation tool works in real time: The only way you could previously use translation in a remote meeting room was to read text, which is both boring in a meeting on a laptop but even more complicated if you're on a mobile phone, not to mention using accessibility tools.
"One use case we identified is if you have a technician in the field talking with someone in a different country such as Indonesia and need to explain how something works," Winetzki explains. "It’s hard to keep reading what is being translated. Even if the translation is okay, you can’t keep looking at the screen when you need to talk, so we created a way to translate over 20 languages--working on 60 over the next 12 months--so you can hear what is translated."
The resulting experience is more fluid, almost like a human translator. You can speak, and the Voicero tool starts to translate into audio in the other person's chosen language. According to Winetzki, the level of translation is quite impressive.
Stefanini's headquarters are in Brazil along with partner AI company Woopi, but one of the U.S. offices are located in Detroit, where the company focuses on natural language processing and AI tools for automating and digitizing business processes.
Other potential uses for this technology can include using it for translating training, to help professionals be available with their specific understanding of domain expertise. The meeting is just a support to communicate with someone else in many different ways, Winetzki says. Stefanini anticipates using this language processing tool for a number of applications where knowledge is currently trapped behind language barriers, and to help companies and individuals with remote collaboration.
"We have been working with natural language processing for a while, so for us understanding language is what we do," Winetzki reports, "but the difference here is translating from one language to another--so we had to learn a lot in the process. Microsoft helped a lot. We made good use of Microsoft tech and helped them take it further."
Woopi's AVI named Sophie is an AI assistant Stefanini helped create to interface with corporate databases.
"In the end when you think about translation you think about something mechanical and not very refined," he says. "When you see this product, you’ll see it’s very similar to what you would get when someone close to you is translating into a different language. It has the experience and support of Microsoft to get to this point."
The Voicero tool is available for companies and individuals through Microsoft Teams, and on a subscription basis through Azure Marketplace and AppSource.