Apple’s Siri may have kicked off the era of digital assistants, inspiring legions of me-toos and even a ScarJo movie, but a fresh take on the concept, dubbed Hound, is leaving the competition in the dust, reviewers say.
Hound is a voice assistant app that comes from the same people responsible for the SoundHound music recognition and discovery offering. True to its name, it sniffs out the best answers to all kinds of questions.
Hound has allegedly been in development for nine years, meaning that it predates Siri in provenance. SoundHound CEO Keyvan Mohajer told Re/code that the technology is “speech to meaning” instead of “speech to text,” and that it combines speech recognition and natural language understanding into one engine.
For now, it’s in beta for either iOS or Android (downloadable at SoundHound’s official website), but early reviews are glowing. Boy Genius Report said that it is “flat-out amazed by how much better it is than the competition.”
When it put Hound through its paces, BGR found it able to handle all kinds of curveball questions, including, “How many days are there between the day after tomorrow and three days before the second Thursday of November 2022?” and, “What is the population of the capital of the country in which the Space Needle is located?”
It also asked, “What is the capital and population for Japan and China and their areas in square miles and square kilometers, and also tell me how many people live in India, and what is the area code for Germany, France and Italy?” and “Show me Asian restaurants excluding Chinese and Japanese.”
“This is extremely advanced and impressive technology,” the reviewers noted. “Simply put, we’ve never seen a voice assistant app come even close to having the capabilities that Hound does.”
Re/code called the demo “dazzling” and was impressed by a complicated travel search that started off by asking for hotels in Seattle for a given night, and, after compound refining searches, ended with results sorted by rooms costing less than $300, that have three or four or five stars, are pet friendly, have a gym and a pool, within 4.5 miles of the Space Needle, and can accommodate a Thursday check in for a two-night stay.
“Siri and Google Now definitely don’t do this,” the reviewer said. “[This] is an app where you can press a button and ask just about anything: Weather, stocks, time zones, even a complex mortgage calculation or currency conversion.”
Mohajer said that he plans to offer the technology up to the developer pool, so that other apps can bring intuitive voice recognition function to consumers. “Our vision is: Everything could be Houndified,” he said.
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