The 2016 Speech Industry Star Performers: SoundHound

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SoundHound Unveils a Mobile Virtual Assistant and Developer Platform

Although founded in 2005 as a mobile music search and recognition app, SoundHound has since taken speech to a much larger audience.

Its two major product launches in the past year included a voice-recognition virtual assistant mobile app called Hound and a voice-enabled developer platform called Houndify.

Houndify, launched in December, is an advanced developer platform that enables users to create voice-enabled conversational interfaces. Already, Expedia.com, AccuWeather, Sportradar, and others have committed to providing their own data and APIs to the Houndify platform. SoundHound has received thousands of additional applications, ranging from large enterprises to individual developers.

That number is sure to grow, given that this past April SoundHound brought the Houndify platform to the Samsung ARTIK developer ecosystem, enabling app builders to add voice-enabled conversational interfaces to millions of connected devices.

“It is important to us to provide developers with the best technology building blocks on top of the Samsung ARTIK Platform so that developers can focus on the design of the key differentiated features and leverage breakthrough technologies,” said Curtis Sasaki, vice president of ecosystems at Samsung Electronics, in a statement. “The Houndify platform is a perfect example of the power of leveraging open platforms and ecosystems for the larger developer community to create compelling user experiences.”

The company in March followed its Houndify launch with the release of Hound, its voice search and virtual assistant app. Hound debuted as an invitation-only private beta in June 2015 and is now open to everyone and free to use on both iOS and Android devices.

Hound lets users speak naturally and follow up for more information. It uses SoundHound’s Speech-to-Meaning technology, which combines voice recognition and natural language understanding to provide more accurate and relevant search results.

With more than 100 domains live today, Hound provides answers that draw on data about weather, local businesses, hotels, currency, nutrition, music, navigation, reference information, videos, finance, mortgage calculation, sports scores, and more.

Customer review site Yelp was one of the first companies to partner with SoundHound to integrate its data and APIs into Hound. “Hound’s ability to rapidly respond to complex voice searches and have an iterative dialogue with follow-up questions and clarifications enables people to easily get more personally relevant results and discover great new businesses on Yelp,” said Chad Richard, senior vice president of business and corporate development at Yelp, in a statement.

An additional Uber integration enables users to inquire about and order rides by verbally giving their pickup locations and destinations.

To ensure it doesn’t neglect its roots, SoundHound in May enhanced its music app to enable users to initiate music searches, play music and videos from YouTube, access deep music knowledge, launch Pandora stations, and even add songs to their Spotify playlists, all with voice through the “OK Hound” feature.

“We are creating a future where we speak naturally to connected devices, starting with our mobile phones and the apps we love,” said Katie McMahon, vice president and general manager of SoundHound, in a statement. “By incorporating ‘OK Hound’ within the SoundHound music app, we bring the power and elegance of our speech-to-meaning technology to our music fans, who can now search, discover, and play music and videos, and even build playlists, by simply speaking.”

SoundHound has more than 300 million global users; it integrates with Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora, and Deezer.

SoundHound also began shipping in Hyundai’s Genesis car line in 2015, and through a partnership with NVIDIA launched in January, it will begin working on a large-vocabulary, hybrid voice and natural language understanding interface for in-vehicle infotainment systems based on deep learning. The solution uses the Houndify speech recognition engine, the NVIDIA Drive platform, and SoundHound’s patented technologies for running dual mode speech recognition simultaneously in the cloud and in embedded systems.

With the Houndify integration, drivers can interact with more than 100 applications that supply relevant information such as directions, weather, stock prices, sports scores, flight information, local business searches, and hotel searches. Houndify can also let them control in-car systems such as heating/cooling, windows, music, or phone.

“Our mission is to Houndify everything, to add a smart, voice-enabled, conversational interface to every technology that humans interact with,” said Keyvan Mohajer, founder and CEO of SoundHound, in a statement. 

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