New Virtual Assistant App, Hound, Is Trying To Beat Google Now, Siri, And Cortana

It looks like the already crowded market of virtual assistant apps will receive a new member. Technically, Hound is already present for more than six months, but until today, the app hasn’t been available to the public. Beta testing and improving the app with the help of more than 150,000 testers is finished and Keyvan Mohajer, CEO of SoundHound, Santa Clara-based startup, has officially announced that the company will today release Hound publicly. The app itself was in development for 9 years, with the beta test being the final step before Hound could be released to masses. At Mohajer said: “We had this vision in the year 2000. We actually positioned the company to be the leader in that. We knew it would take many years, we were working on this well before Apple, well before Siri, we wanted to own all the core technologies, we wanted it to be a step change in quality.”

Hound Featured

So what the fuss is all about? Well, Hound is different from Siri or Google Now in the way it understands your speech. Google Now and Siri work in a way that your speech is first transformed into text, and then that text run through the engine that tries to generate text’s meaning. Hound uses the technology called “speech to meaning”, it tries to bring the meaning component closer to the voice transcription; it tries to figure out what you said without transforming your words into text, in an attempt to be quicker and more natural in response to user’s questions than Google Now, Siri or Cortana.

Hound 1And it is fast, faster than its competitors in most cases, but when it fails, it fails in fascinating ways. It will give you the list of Chinese restaurants in Boston, and then reduce the list to those that are closer than 500 meters from you without problems, but if you ask it some mundane question, like the name of the album that was released by some relatively known band in 1999 (In Flames, to be specific) it will stumble and fall. Logically this shouldn’t happen, because the information is available on the web. But Hound uses its own database; it doesn’t rely on Google’s search engine, and its knowledge graph; it uses its own knowledge graph that will still need some time to be on Goggle’s level. But even now the app is fast, it can understand some very complicated questions, and best of all, it is capable of translating whole sentences in near real-time, and that can be extremely useful to a lot of people. When it refines its knowledge graph, Hound will surely become a serious competitor in the field of virtual assistants.

For now, it is good, but not that good. Because it tries to understand your speech in more natural and faster way, stumbles are often. And in order to use iHound 2t, you have to
actually open the app, unlike with Siri and Google Now, where the assistants are always on, just waiting to ask them something. But SoundHound has big plans for Hound, especially with its set of developer tools called Houndify. They will allow developers to integrate Hound in their apps, making Hound more and more present on your phone, making Hound not just an app, but a developer platform as well. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Hound is a great translating tool, and when it works, it is as fast as lighting. It just needs to be refined and its database needs to grow for Hound to truly become a next big thing in the world of virtual assistant apps.

 

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