Just when you thought Amazon and Google had saturated the smart speaker market with their ever-expanding portfolios of voice assistant gadgets, along comes Harman Kardon with yet another option. As a relative late bloomer in the smart speaker market, Harman Kardon has chosen the Microsoft Cortana voice assistant as its platform.
The timing, however, seems perfect, as Microsoft only recently announced its “Connected Home” section available on through the Cortana Notebook menu on some Windows 10 PCs. Connected Home lets you use your Windows 10 PC to relay voice commands to smart home devices from Wink, Insteon, Nest, SmartThings and Philips (Hue).
Building off Windows 10 Platform
The upcoming addition of a smart speaker with Cortana built in offers another, more natural method of launching voice commands to smart home products. Unlike the Cortana Notebook which requires that you sign into each service individually before issuing voice commands, the smart speaker—like other brands of smart speakers—will listen for your edicts and carry them out completely hands-free.
First to Incorporate Skype
The Harman Kardon Invoke, set for launch sometime this month, employs Cortana so that you can use your voice to play your favorite music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, deliver the latest news and much more. With Skype integration, you can make calls to cellphones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices. And, with ties to popular smart home devices like Hue, SmartThings, Wink, Nest and Insteon, you can also control your smart home devices using voice to do things like turn out the lights or control the temperature.
Packed with Music Playing Power
With a solid background in audio reproduction, it’s a good bet that music played by the Invoke will sound great. It comes packed with three woofers, three tweeters, two passive radiators, and seven embedded microphones (for hearing voice commands).
“We’re excited to work with Microsoft to develop a premium speaker that will deliver an exceptional experience to every customer using 360-degree Harman Kardon sound and the intelligence of Cortana,” says Michael Mauser, president, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN. “Voice-enabled technology is the future; by teaming up with Microsoft, we’re delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology, superior sound and the stunning design that is Harman Kardon’s hallmark.”
Availability and Pricing
Available in Pearl Silver (White) and Graphite (Black), Invoke embodies a sleek, modern design. Its metallic speaker cabinet delivers power and projects sound a full 360 degrees, filling even a large room or space. It will retail for $199.95, and will be available from select retailers and Microsoft Stores in fall 2017.