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ZipDX Brings Together Simultaneous Interpreting and Teleconferencing
Posted by Vijayalaxmi Hegde on April 4, 2013  in the following blogs: Interpreting, Technology
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ZipDX’s introduction of simultaneous interpreting to teleconferencing is one of those things in life that you had no idea you needed so badly until you were actually introduced to it. It offers a cloud-based meeting platform in which interpreters listen to the speaker and interpret simultaneously for other people logged into the call.

David Frankel, founder and CEO, and Barry Slaughter Olsen, the General Manager of Multilingual Operations, talked to Common Sense Advisory last week about ZipDX Multilingual. Some features of the product caught our attention: 
  • Multilingual capability: In a ZipDX call, speakers of different languages can choose their desired language channel via their telephone keypad. As the interpretation happens real-time, speakers don’t need to pause but can carry on the conversation like they normally would. The system offers adjustable “audio cues” so that the speaker can hear the interpreter working faintly in the background and those listening to the interpreter can hear the speaker faintly as well. The speaker can also hear others if they want to interrupt, even if they are in another language channel. In addition to supporting back-and-forth multilingual conversations among small groups, the system can also enable large lecture-type virtual meetings leveraging simultaneous interpreter(s). Users can currently conduct a conference in eight languages, but Frankel said the number of languages could be increased significantly, if required. 
  • Real-time transcriptions: Not only is the interpretation simultaneous, but so is the transcription, if you will. As of now, the transcriptions are only available for the English part of the conversation. 
  • Remote interpretation: This feature could be particularly useful when it is challenging to bring a simultaneous interpreter onsite. The ZipLine virtual interpreter console allows interpreters to log into the call and start interpreting just as they would in a physical conference. The tool mimics the real-life hardware that conference interpreters use and also comes with other regular web conferencing features like the ability to chat with meeting participants. More than one interpreter can be logged into the same language channel if required for longer calls where interpreters may need to work in shifts.
The people behind ZipDX know what they’re doing and the product is stronger because of the backgrounds they come from. Frankel brings significant experience in networking and voice-over-packet technology and Olsen is a veteran interpreter who also teaches interpreting at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. 

They told us they’re watching the machine interpretation space closely, but are currently focused on making sure their clients are able to conduct high-value meetings where quality is important. The bulk of their clientele comes from the public sector for now, but in a highly globalized business environment, ZipDX has much potential to expand commercially. 

Also, it is a company that interpreting companies and interpreters might think of as an ally. Although ZipDX only provides the technology and doesn’t hire interpreters itself, its teleconferencing solution can give a boost to simultaneous interpreting in geographies other than where the traditional markets lie. 

Bandwidth issues may be the single big challenge to ZipDX when its user base grows, as internet speeds may not be reliable enough to support this type of technology in all the desired locations.


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