But with the new service, SoundHound is trying to win by providing better technology. Rather than forcing consumers to speak unnaturally to a computer, only to be misunderstood and get inaccurate results, SoundHound's strategy includes a key message: Speak to a phone like you'd speak to a friend. No need to over exaggerate pronunciations.
"People talk to them, they will talk back to you, you will talk again, you will have a conversation with them," said Mohajer. "It's voice recognition, natural language and A.I. (artificial intelligence)."
Using the Hound app, consumers will be able to ask about weather, stock prices, travel times and distances as well as place phone calls and send text messages. The company also has a partnership with Expedia to look up flights and hotels, and is opening up the technology to developers so they can voice-enable their own apps.
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To show how the technolgy can all work, Mohajer starts his demo with a simple question like, "What time is it?" And then asks increasingly complex questions, leading up to, "How many days are there between the day after tomorrow and three days before the second Thursday in November 2022?"
An electronic female voice promptly replies, "There are 2,726 days between the day after tomorrow and Monday, November 7, 2022."
It understands context, too. So when Mohajer asks, "What's the population of China?" and follows immediately with "What about Japan?" the computer infers he's asking about Japan's population.
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In the San Francisco Bay Area, everyone is obsessed with home prices, so another part of the demo will resonate particularly well with potential homebuyers calculating monthly payments.
After calling up the mortgage calculator, Mohajer asks, "What is the monthly payment on a million dollar home?" Because Hound needs more information to provide an answer, it asks follow-up questions in response like, "What is the down payment?" and "What is the mortgage period?"
The homebuyer can get to the answer that way, or just ask it altogether like this: "What is the monthly payment on a million dollar home with a $100,000 down payment over 30 years with a 3.95 percent interest rate?" The phone replies, "Your monthly mortgage payment is $4270.84."