SoundHound raises $100 million to drive international expansion in China and Europe
SoundHound announced today it has raised $100 million in new funding to drive adoption and distribution of its Houndify voice AI platform across verticals including automotive, Internet of Things, consumer products, and enterprise apps and services. The funding will accelerate global expansion, including new offices in China, France and Germany, in addition to furthering momentum in the US, Japan, and South Korea. With the new funding, SoundHound wants to give every brand a voice. The funding came from group of strategic investors including Chinese tech giant, Tencent Holdings Limited, Daimler AG, and others.
SoundHound is the leading innovator in voice-enabled AI and conversational intelligence technologies. It enables people to interact with the things around them in the same way people interact with each other: by speaking naturally to mobile phones, cars, TVs, music speakers, and every other part of the emerging ‘connected’ world. Our consumer product, Hound, leverages our Speech-to-Meaning™ and Deep Meaning Understanding™ technologies to create a groundbreaking smartphone experience, and is the first product to build on the Houndify platform.
“Voice-enabled AI and conversational interfaces represent the next major focus in human-computing interaction that will impact every business in the years to come,” said Keyvan Mohajer, co-founder and CEO of SoundHound Inc. “We built the Houndify platform to enable this massive paradigm shift, and we are uniquely positioned to guide our partners in developing their voice AI strategies, while enabling them to maintain control over their own customers, data and brand. We look forward to bringing the advancements that we’ve created to the Chinese and European markets.”
Houndify is the only independent AI platform that allows developers and businesses to deploy a conversational interface while maintaining control of their brand and users. That control has become an increasingly important factor as companies risk disintermediation if they integrate with technology companies that have popularized their own voice assistants. In addition, Houndify’s comprehensive set of technologies and capabilities results in the most advanced and scalable voice AI available in the market for product integration. This includes the world’s fastest speech recognition, the most sophisticated natural language understanding, easy to use developer tools, knowledge graphs, and a large and growing number of domains. Domains are programs that provide a natural and fully conversational interface on specific topics, such as weather, sports, flights, restaurants and many more, that can be readily enabled in any product without requiring users to memorize and use the specific phrasing of hard-coded commands or skills.
Houndify technologies represent more than a decade of R&D and innovation by SoundHound Inc., resulting in unique advantages, making it the smartest and most accurate voice AI platform in the market. SoundHound Inc.’s patented Speech-to-Meaning™ and Deep Meaning Understanding™ technologies deliver unprecedented speed and accuracy in voice recognition and responses, and an ability to understand context, such as the user’s location or previous queries, to support natural interactions. Another key advantage of Houndify is its architecture for collaborative intelligence called “Collective AI,” a powerful mechanism that facilitates collaboration among developers by enabling them to extend the functionality of existing knowledge domains. This results in a global AI with comprehensive knowledge that is always learning, is crowdsourced to domain experts, and is larger than the sum of its parts.
“We believe that connectivity in vehicles will become a part of everyday life in the near future and it will soon be possible to control entertainment, navigation and real-time driving information by voice command,” said Sajjad Khan, Vice President of Digital Vehicle & Mobility at Daimler AG. “Houndify provides a solution to make these interactions natural, fast and accurate — critical components for allowing drivers to concentrate fully on the road.”
“Houndify will be a great addition to our strategy and existing business,” said Dr. Chengmao Xu, Vice President of Midea Corporate Research Center. “Our investment will not only help advance SoundHound Inc.’s vision of Collective AI, but also drive international expansion of Houndify, particularly to the greater China market.”
“With the rapid adoption of voice-enabled human-machine interfaces, Orange is committed to improving customer experience by offering end users the most advanced Speech-to-Meaning capability in our upcoming AI-powered virtual assistant,” said Luc Bretones, Senior Vice President, Technocentre and Orange Fab. “Our ambition is to develop a digital interface that is able to recognize the full range of human expressions and emotions.”
More than 60,000 partners have registered on the Houndify platform since its launch in December 2015 and more than 1,000 distinct products are being powered by Houndify. At CES in January, SoundHound Inc. announced several integrations of its Houndify platform into various products, including a partnership with Hyundai in its Intelligent Personal Agent, a new voice-enabled virtual assistant system, in addition to integrations with HUMAX, BUNN, Mayfield Robotics, AvatarMind Robots, Modiface, PhotoSpring and Onkyo.
The Houndify platform’s Collective AI architecture already provides access to knowledge and data from Yelp, Uber and Expedia, as well as over 100 other domains such as weather, stocks, sports, local businesses, flights, hotels, mortgage, and even interactive games. The platform also provides a large number of domains specifically targeted for the automotive industry. Houndify is featured in SoundHound Inc.’s mobile apps: Hound, the voice search & assistant app, and SoundHound, the music search, discovery and play app, making them hands-free and voice interface-enabled. Houndify supports other technology and service providers to make their offerings available to its large and growing developer community, such as its partnerships with Acapela Group and SELVAS AI, both of which allow users to incorporate more than 32 distinct text-to-speech solutions, in multiple languages, into their products or services. Developers interested in exploring the Houndify platform can visit Houndify.com to learn more and register. The Hound voice search and assistant app is available as a free iOS or Android app, and can be downloaded at SoundHound.com/Hound.