Article by Anthony Ha (@anthonyha)
SoundHound’s Houndify, which promises to “add voice enabled conversational interface to anything,” is officially available to developers today.
SoundHound is best-known as a music recognition app, but over the summer, it announced broader ambitions with the private beta launch of its Hound app and Houndify platform.
The Hound app is similar in some ways to voice-controlled products like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo, but with a focus on quickly answering complex queries. (For example, when SoundHound founder and CEO Keyvan Mohajer demonstrated the app for me in June, he asked it, “When is the sun going to rise two days before Christmas of 2021 in Tokyo, Japan?”) The aim of the Houndify platform, meanwhile, is to bring similar capabilities to other apps and devices.
Mohajer told me yesterday that the response to the private beta has been strong, with more than 300,000 applications to test out the Hound app, and “thousands” of developer applications for Houndify. Those weren’t just small app developers either, he said, but also “very big companies, like consumer electronics companies and car manufacturers.”
So now, Houndify is moving out of beta testing. Mohajer said one of the challenges was usability — maybe not something you’d think of as a top priority for developer platforms, but he said Houndify has to be accessible to “developers who are not necessarily scientists in this field.”
SoundHound has also partnered with a number of other companies to make data available through the Houndify platform, including Expedia (hotel and flight data), AccuWeather (local weather), Sportradar (pre-match, live and post-match sports data) and Xignite (stock market).
As more devices become Internet-connected, Mohajer suggested Houndify could help people actually use them: “It’s easy to make your thermostat connected — people don’t talk about how you’re going to interact with them.”
And he suggested that these data partnerships could be useful in that context. Take a “smart” coffee maker: Yes, you’d want to be able to tell it to make coffee with a voice command, “But while your espresso machine is making coffee for you, why not ask, ‘How’s the weather?'”
Houndify is available in both free and paid tiers. SoundHound’s consumer voice search app Hound remains in private beta, though Mohajer said, “Obviously, that’s going to change soon.”