Most Influential Projects 2022

34 Koo Multi Language Tool

Koo Multi-Language Tool

For letting social media users connect and converse—in the moment, in their own language 

Social media was created for connection, but language barriers can limit how far that connection stretches. That’s particularly true in India, a country with a population of 1.4 billion that nods to 22 distinct languages in its constitution. To help users communicate far afield of their own native tongue, the Indian microblogging app Koo rolled out a new feature offering near-effortless translations in real time.

Launched by Bombinate Technologies in 2020, the Koo app initially allowed users to compose 400-character “koos” in English, Hindi or Kannada. The pandemic—combined with Twitter’s challenges in the market—fueled Koo’s surging popularity. And by the next year, CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna was ready to add even more accelerant to the company’s growth: revealing plans to roll out a multi language tool that would eventually scale to 22 language options. 

The feature, unveiled in October 2021 and updated in August, allows users to select multiple “active languages” for posts, then talk or type to have a message translated across language barriers. Closing the language gap required the team to create software capable of translating a message into multiple languages—without losing the creator’s original meaning and intended tone. To perform the trailblazing work of data-mapping more obscure languages, such as Assamese, the team coupled its own technology with Amazon SageMaker, the tech giant’s machine learning orchestration platform.  

“We want to be a part of the journey where we enrich our own language models with the content that we generate and go into that virtuous cycle of ensuring the model accuracy also increases,” said Koo CTO Phaneesh Gururaj on the Amazon blog.

In October 2021, Koo celebrated International Translation Day by touting the platform’s then eight language offerings (Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Assamese, Bengali, Telugu and English) to its 8 million monthly users. The team has since added Gujarati and Punjabi, with a larger goal of hitting—and then surpassing—22 languages. And Radhakrishna has said he hopes the multi language tool will help Koo become the biggest microblogging site in his country.