The new Hound app is able to process complex requests faster than rival virtual assistants.

Shazam competitor SoundHound launches advanced virtual assistant

The virtual assistant market has been posting impressive growth recently. As an illustration of the dynamism in this field, the latest arrival on the scene has taken everyone somewhat by surprise. California-based audio recognition and cognition specialist SoundHound Inc has just released a voice-powered virtual assistant mobile app called Hound, which appears to have stolen a march on competitors such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now! with its ability to aggregate information from a range of databases in order to process highly complex requests in record time.

In a video posted online by SoundHound we see the virtual assistant (VA) displaying in an instant on Google Maps nearby cafés that have WiFi and stay open after 9pm on Sundays.  Hound can also quickly track down for example hotels in San Francisco with rooms costing between $200 and $300 available for the next two nights, which accept pets and boast a swimming pool and a gym. Many experts are convinced that the ability to browse quickly through large databases will be the hallmark of VAs in the near future. Hound is the first app to offer a highly efficient service in this area.

Hound’s functionality may come as something of a surprise to those who think of SoundHound only as a lesser-known alternative to the iconic music identification app Shazam. However, in a recent interview with US technology news and media publication The Verge, SoundHound CEO Keyvan Mohajer underlined: “We’ve been working on it for nine years. It’s not a new direction. It was an original ambition of the company and we knew it was going to take that long.”  And if we want to understand how it is that the minnow has managed to overtake the bigger fish here we need look no further than the sound (in this case voice) recognition technology that is the backbone of Hound’s advanced VA functionality.

Meanwhile the company has forged partnerships with Yelp and Uber in order to provide users with information on cafés and restaurants and enable them to order a car to get there fast. All in all, the technology developed by SoundHound seems to represent a further step towards creating a virtual assistant which is capable of taking over most of the tedious tasks in our daily lives, such as booking hotels and making a doctor’s appointment.

It remains to be seen whether the market leaders will try to acquire SoundHound so as to incorporate its technology into their own VAs, as they have done on several occasions before, or whether the company will continue along its own independent path.

By Guillaume Renouard