More people are going to be speaking to more things.
While the Internet of Things will bring the addition of new screens into the home and present the opportunity for more and varied forms of advertising, the power of voice may become front and center when it comes to consumer interactions.
And some of these new forms of interactions may be facilitated by what essentially started out as a music listening mobile app.
Much like Shazam, the SoundHound app quickly identifies a song being played. It launched back in 2009. I’ve regularly used the app since its early days, primarily because it works well, both from a speed and accuracy standpoint.
The music recognition app has been downloaded somewhere over 280 million times.
“It’s been all viral, with no advertising dollars spent,” SoundHound CEO and founder Keyvan Mohajer told me yesterday.
But the music recognition capability was just a stop on the road to the Internet of Things.
After many months of beta testing, the company’s new app called Hound was recently released to the public.
Rather than listening for music to identify, Hound is a voice-driven search device, squarely targeted at the Internet of Things.
SoundHound started more than 10 years ago on a long-term mission to perfect voice interactions.
“We concluded there would be a day that we talk to everything around us, which was not obvious at the time,” Mohajer said.
And that time is starting to be now, with many consumers already starting to use voice commands in their homes.
In one recent study, the majority (64%) of smart home product owners use voice commands with 61% of them wanting to use them even more, as I wrote about here recently (Consumer Voice Commands Rule For Smart Home Objects; 61% Want Even More).
The idea for Hound is for it to be embedded into connected objects so that consumers can control those by simply speaking.
“This has the potential to be extremely disruptive,” said Mohajer
One of the elements for voice commands to be effective with connected objects will be speed.
Voice activated search has two basic components. There’s the speech-to-text recognition part and then the process of translating the text to meaning, essentially so an answer to a question can be returned.
Hound combined the two functions into one, so that searches are getting underway even while a question is being asked.
One of the other elements of Hound is the ability to understand more complex questions.
For the connected home, this capability could allow rapid understanding of what a consumer is asking of a connected object.
Another potential down the road would be for Hound to recognize whose voice it is when someone in the home says something, such as ‘play music I like.’
And the consumer-smart object conversation is where brands likely can work their way in.
The dynamics of people speaking to activate and control products and appliances is at the starting gate.