Hound Beta

SoundHound, the company behind the well-known music recognition app with the same name, caused a big stir with the announcement of Hound yesterday, a virtual assistant app that promises to give Google Now, Siri, and Cortana a run for their money. And more than that.

Nine years in the making, Hound generated positive reactions in the tech press, but without a real hands-on demonstration, it’s hard to understand what the fuss is all about. Well, SoundHound delivered and this video called “Hound internal demo” suggests the hype is entirely deserved.

In case you can’t watch the video, the user asks questions like “What is the population and capital for Japan and China and their area 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 Hound begins answering instantly, without skipping a beat.

It’s important to be cautious here, as we don’t know how this demo was conducted and if the commercial product works nearly as well. It’s possible that the app was trained for the user’s voice (or even specific queries) in advance.

And Hound won’t understand everything you say. The list of supported commands includes categories like travel, weather, or navigation. While the app can understand and answer queries that are phrased in several ways, it looks like there’s a limited number of questions or commands you can ask.

Even if the average user experience won’t be as smooth and fast as in this demo, Hound looks very impressive. You can try it for yourself, but you need to be a US resident and obtain an invite for the beta program here. SoundHound also offers an SDK called Houndify that lets developers integrate Hound natural language processing in their apps.

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