2023 Speech Industry Award Winner: SoundHound AI Brings Speech Breakthroughs to the Mainstream
Few vendors in the speech arena have been as busy in 2023 as SoundHound AI. The company, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., this year launched Chat AI, a voice-enabled digital assistant with generative artificial intelligence; Smart Answering, which uses voice AI to handle inbound customer calls; Dynamic Interaction, a breakthrough in conversational AI that not only recognizes and understands speech but also responds and acts in real time; Intelligent Transcription; and Edge+Cloud connectivity. It also deepened its push into several key industry verticals, most notable the restaurant and automotive sectors.
With Chat AI, consumers and businesses can submit queries by speaking while text and/or audio output relays the response. Users can also ask follow-up questions and commands to filter, sort, or add more information to their original requests.
The fully automated Smart Answering service accepts inbound customer calls and then, using speech recognition, natural language understanding, and generative AI, reads and integrates company website information to give tailored, conversational responses to queries.
Dynamic Interaction differs greatly from other voice technology that typically requires wake words and turn taking to process requests. Dynamic Interaction uses fragment parsing, which breaks speech down to partial utterances and processes them in real time. It also completely ignores off-topic speech, only responding to domain-specific topics, like the items on a menu. It can also make suggestions to users based on a real-time interpretation of their speech.
Dynamic Interaction “is incredibly user-friendly and precise. Consumers won’t have to modify how they speak to the voice assistant to get a useful response. They can just speak as naturally as they would to a human. As an added bonus, they’ll also have the means to instantly know and edit registered requests,” said Keyvan Mohajer, cofounder and CEO of SoundHound AI, in a statement. “We believe, just like how Apple’s multitouch technology leapfrogged touch interfaces in 2009, this is a significant disruption in human-computer interfaces.”
A few months later, SoundHound added generative AI to Dynamic Interactions, granting users hands-free access to a vast wealth of ideas, information, and sophisticated search functionality.
Intelligent Transcription is fueled by SoundHound’s Speech-to-Meaning system to not only generate the text of a conversation in real time but also to simultaneously structure it and tag key topics and entities from which it infers speaker meaning and intent. It can also be combined with predictive analytics to suggest responses and next best actions across a broad range of topics.
SoundHound’s suite of Edge+Cloud connectivity solutions allow companies to voice-enable almost any product, device, or service in edge-only, cloud-only, or hybrid cloud and edge environments. They use active arbitration technology, which delivers queries to the cloud and the embedded system simultaneously for a faster, more accurate conversational experience.
SoundHound also launched Chat AI for Automotive, an in-vehicle voice assistant to give drivers and their passengers access to information domains enabled by complex conversational capabilities.
A collaboration with Togg, a Turkish mobility provider, brought SoundHound’s Edge+Cloud connectivity, multiple language capabilities, and custom-branded voice assistant to Togg’s smart cars. Togg drivers can use voice commands to obtain information, play music, lock doors, open the trunk, change the temperature, switch lights, and more.
Furthering its push into the automotive vertical, SoundHound lent its speech recognition capabilities to HARMAN so drivers can interact with the HARMAN Ignite Store, a connected platform for car apps, via voice.
“We are impressed by SoundHound’s voice AI, and we’re excited for the opportunity to work together to provide drivers with a way of controlling their in-vehicle digital experience that is as smart and intuitive,” said Albert Jordan, vice president of HARMAN Ignite Store at HARMAN International, in a statement at the time.
SoundHound also invested considerable resources into its SoundHound for Restaurants voice ordering solution, including integrations with point-of-sale systems from Toast and Oracle. But one of its biggest successes came when fast-food chain White Castle committed to deploying SoundHound for Restaurants in more than 100 U.S. drive-thru lanes by the end of 2024.