Snapchat Taps SoundHound to Add Voice Search for Filters in the App
Snapchat selfie fans can now ask the app to add a filter via voice command. The new Voice Scan feature uses SoundHound’s Houndify voice AI platform to enable users to hunt for and open the kind of lens they want for their photos.
The feature adds Houndify to Snapchat’s Scan platform, which hunts for relevant lenses based on what direction the camera is pointing. Voice Scan simplifies finding the lens a user wants by allowing them to phrase a request directly to the app. To activate Voice Scan, users can awaken the voice assistant by saying, “Hey Snapchat,” and making their request. As with the voice search, the wake word element is part of the Houndify platform. The speech engine is flexible enough to understand most conversational language and can handle the many strange requests that could fit one or more of the nearly half a million filters created by Snapchat and its userbase.
Voice Scan notes which way the camera is pointing as a way of determining what filters to show. As an example, you might ask for a filter giving you different color hair or eyes when the camera is in selfie mode, and all of the potentially relevant lenses will be displayed. With the camera reversed to look the other way, you might ask Snapchat to take you under the ocean, or to change the weather and create rain without getting wet. The voice AI can also access Snapchat’s other features, pulling up games and playing music upon request. The music aspect reflects the long-standing partnership between SoundHound and Snap Inc. SoundHound’s music discovery service was among the first to use the Snap Kit integration platform so that SoundHound app users could make a custom Snapchat video with a song, including background information, a playback link, and unique animation.
“We are thrilled to be one of Snapchat’s first Scan platform partners and voice-enable one of their most powerful features,” SoundHound co-founder James Hom said in a statement. “With hundreds of thousands of Lenses available in the app, being able to just ask for a feature offers a powerful new way to discover new Lenses with the added convenience of being hands-free.”
This isn’t Snapchat’s first foray applying voice tech to its app. The company added limited speech recognition in 2018 with lenses that would add a filter effect when a user spoke a specific word during a video recording with the lens in place. For instance, one filter would suddenly fill the screen with hearts when it detected the word love. Voice Scan is a far more sophisticated feature, which makes sense since SoundHound has spent many years developing the Houndify platform to handle tasks across many industries.
The arrangement with Snapchat will bring Houndify to a lot of new users, but it’s just the latest of SoundHound’s list of clients. Apps like Pandora use Houndify to run their voice mode, and SoundHound’s technology underlies the voice assistants in hotel rooms provided by Samsung subsidiary Harman Professional Solutions. Carmakers have been particularly keen to work with the company to add a voice assistant to their vehicles. In January, Honda announced plans to use Houndify as the basis for its upcoming voice assistant, following in the tracks of Kia’s Seltos cars, the Hyundai Venue SUV, and the Mercedes MBUX voice assistant. Snapchat is unique in some ways, though. Only on Snapchat does Houndify have to parse a request to make the user look like a potato.