SoundHound Launches New Hound Voice Search and Virtual Assistant

SoundHound, a provider of sound recognition and voice search technologies, yesterday launched Hound, its voice search and virtual assistant app. Hound debuted as an invitation-only private beta last June 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.

"We believe that using voice to interface with devices will become a widespread user behavior if it is fast and delightful," said Keyvan Mohajer, SoundHound's founder and CEO, in a statement. "Hound delivers a major step-change to both speed and accuracy, while doing something fundamentally different from previous voice technologies by allowing users to speak naturally and ask follow-up questions to further refine, change, or complete their results. Once users no longer feel the pain points of typing on small screens and being misunderstood by older voice services, they will fall in love with Hound."

Hound uses the Speech-to-Meaning recognition technology from SoundHound's voice-enabling platform, Houndify, which launched publicly in December. Speech-to-Meaning simultaneously combines voice recognition and natural language understanding. Partners using Houndify technology include NVIDIA, which is incorporating it into their DRIVE CX platform in car dashboards, and Samsung, which is including it within their ARTIK Platform to power Internet of Things devices, with future voice-controlled experiences coming from others.

The Houndify platform's technology allows Hound to offer the following:

  • Specificity and understanding of follow-up queries: Hound can understand multiple variables, which allows users to be specific and detailed with requests. Moreover, Hound retains awareness of the context of what the user is asking, enabling an experience of continuity with follow-up questions. Hound will also prompt the user for more information if some of the necessary variables for the query are not initially provided.
  • Hands-free: Hound can be used completely hands-free by saying "OK, Hound."
  • Constantly expanding deep and joyful experiences: Hound is constantly getting smarter by learning from its usage data and expanding the domains that provide relevant information or actions related to queries. 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.

Yelp and Uber have partnered with SoundHound to integrate their data and APIs into Hound as domains. Hound's Yelp integration enables users to get very detailed and specific with their requests during local business searches, using only their voices to ask follow-up questions, exclude certain types of listings or further sort their results.

"We are excited to connect Hound users with great local businesses," said Chad Richard, senior vice president of business and corporate development at Yelp, in a statement. "Hound's ability to rapidly respond to complex voice searches and have an iterative dialog with follow-up questions and clarifications enables people to easily get more personally relevant results and discover great new businesses on Yelp."

In addition, the Uber integration enables users to inquire about and order rides by verbally giving their pick-up locations and destinations.

"Through this integration and virtual assistant Hound, users can just simply say the words and a ride will be on its way," said Matt Wyndowe, head of product partnerships at Uber, in a statement. "Thanks to this great hands-free experience, now getting an Uber is even easier than ever."

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