Hound and Uber — The voice interface future is here

Over 90% of requests for transportation via Hound are fulfilled by Uber

We’re on the brink of a voice interface revolution. In an increasingly connected world, we will speak to the products and services around us. And SoundHound, the company behind the eponymous music recognition and discovery app, is ready to lead the charge. While the popularity of the company’s original music recognition app has grown to more than 300 million users, the team has been working behind-the-scenes to release two new products earlier this year: Hound, a consumer voice search and assistant app, and Houndify, a developer platform that enables any developer to add a natural, conversational voice interface to their products. Before publicly launching Hound in March, the team integrated Uber into their product using the Uber API for a first-of-its-kind mobile phone experience.

Hound’s hands-free interface makes requesting an Uber even easier than it already is, especially when you feel too hurried to stop and type. Whether you’re walking down a crowded sidewalk or rushing to get out the door, simply tell the Hound app your destination, and it will tell you the estimated fare, duration, and arrival time — all you need to do is say “yes” (or “sure,” or “yeah,” or any other synonym) after it asks, “Shall I book it?” Thanks to the integration and Hound’s Speech-to-Meaning™ technology, users can simply say their location and ask for an Uber, and a ride will be on its way. No need to lift a finger or take your eyes off what you’re doing.

“As we were getting ready to launch Hound and demonstrate the technology, we asked ourselves, ‘What other companies in the world have a product or service that has become crucially important to people’s everyday lives and is on the cutting-edge of technology?’ We want to partner closely with those thought-leaders. Uber was at the top of that list.” — Leonard Chen, Director of Platform & Content Partnerships, SoundHound Inc.

Hound’s context-savvy interface lets you speak naturally and follow up for more information — just as if you’re having a conversation with another person. And it can handle complex sentences, including compound criteria, exclusions, and negation. This allows users to ask specific, detailed questions and receive accurate answers in return — a feature that is particularly helpful when you’re looking for transit options or on the move.

Want to know where the nearest Uber is? Hound will tell you how many minutes away the closest Uber options are (SUV, X, BLACK, etc.) by saying “OK Hound, where’s the nearest Uber?”

Want to know how much it will cost to go from where you are to the best cocktail bar in town or to the airport? Hound can give you an estimate, and if you want to know how long the trip will take, you can ask, “How long is the trip?” without restating the destination.

SoundHound also has more than a hundred other data partners, including Expedia and Yelp. These partnerships allow users to combine queries, making the service even more powerful. Want to know the cost and duration for an UberX ride to the best Mexican restaurant in San Francisco open at 9 p.m. that night? Hound can answer all that in one exchange, and book you an Uber ride to the restaurant. Or, if you’re flying out of town that day, you can check your flight status and book a ride to the airport — all while still packing.

Words that move you

The simplicity and utility of the Uber integration has helped crystallize how powerful and beneficial a voice product can be. The impressive Uber-in-Hound use case has attracted significant media attention and contributed to more than 5 million impressions since the feature was launched.

Hound users have also heartily embraced the integration. More than 90% of transportation requests through Hound are for Uber rides, and the feature has proven especially popular during commute hours and on weekends.

The feedback on social media and customer support comments have also been consistently positive.

“As amazing as this app is, combining it with Uber is Genius!!!!! I just asked ‘Hound How much is Uber to my nearest Kroger’ and it told me super fast. That saved me so much typing and figuring things out. … This is amazing!!!”

Big returns for little effort

Building, testing, and deploying their Uber API integration was also a breeze for Soundhound. Here’s what the team had to say about using Uber’s API to construct the Uber domain within Hound and Houndify:

“With Uber’s API, we were able to provide a consistent and completely hands-free experience for both Hound iOS and Android users who want to find a local business or restaurant, then quickly get price estimates and book their Uber to that location. We found the APIs exceptionally easy to work with, and the workflow is well documented and well exposed through the APIs. The support team was also responsive and knowledgeable in resolving any integration issues. The best part of the development experience has to be the API sandbox; it allowed us to test Uber functionalities without having drivers showing up at our doorstep.” — Kheng Khov, Director, Product Management, SoundHound Inc.

SoundHound’s ultimate mission is to “Houndify everything,” which will enable people to control the things around them — from smartphones to cars — simply by speaking naturally. Developers seeking to Houndify their products and services can access domains and API data provided by SoundHound and partners such as Uber to provide users with a unified experience.

Judging from the reactions to the Uber integration within the Hound app, people love speaking naturally and getting a quick result. Given this success, SoundHound is excited to bring additional Uber features into its product, including maps, ride canceling, and the option to request UberPOOL. SoundHound and Uber will continue working together to make engaging with Uber through voice as easy and seamless as possible on any device.

Build your own next generation interface

Don’t take SoundHound’s words for granted. Experience for yourself how easy it is to integrate with the Uber API. Check out our ride requests guides and create magical user experiences for your users while they’re on a ride.

To get updates from the Uber Developer team in the future, follow our publication or follow us on Twitter.

Please tap or click “♥︎” to help to promote this story to others.