SoundHound Inc. has been tapped by the Walt Disney Company to use its Hound’s iOS and Android virtual assistant to help theme park guests. With this pilot program, you’ll be able to navigate your way through Disneyland or Disney World by using your voice and saying “OK Hound.”
The idea is that you can walk around a Walt Disney amusement park and ask Hound things like what the height requirements are for rides, when does the park close, where can you go to purchase a set of Mickey Mouse ears, which rides are appropriate for tweens, where the restrooms are near Epcot Center, or which scary rides have the shortest wait times.
This capability will be rolling out starting later this summer. But since this is a pilot program, it’s best to consider this as an experiment. Who knows how this will actually perform and whether this is something that guests will prefer.
But that’s not all that SoundHound could have up its sleeve. Some plans it could consider working on with Disney in another pilot may be to bring its voice-powered assistant into the park’s accommodations and amenities. SoundHound general manager Katie McMahon hinted that soon guests could possibly have their own virtual concierge within hotels, making requests for more towels, room service, and more. Not a bad concept — no longer having to wait on a human for the small things?
Although anyone will be able to use Disney’s integration into Hound, the virtual concierge offering will be geo-fenced to guests within the park limits.
The move to make itself more technologically aware comes amid reports of Disney looking to modernize itself. A Seeking Alpha article opined that the company was “grounded in the ‘old’ media world,” but was in the process of adapting to the future. This could be why Disney approached SoundHound to leverage Hound’s capabilities. Additional possibilities, such as tie-ins with Disney’s MagicBand wristband or maybe even using Hound within Disney’s retail stores, are likely.
Launched in March, Hound reflects a decade’s worth of work by SoundHound to create what it envisioned a voice-powered virtual assistant should be. It’s a direct competitor to the likes of Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana. The company bills it as being faster and more accurate than the ones directly built into the mobile operating system, and the app utilizes speech-to-meaning recognition technology.
This isn’t the first domain-like integration SoundHound has made within its Hound app. You can already leverage services such as Uber, Yelp, and Expedia in the app, which seems to match the company’s effort to “Houndify” everything.
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