Harman Kardon’s new Invoke speaker designed to tackle Amazon Echo

harman kardon invoke speaker microsoft cortana screen shot 2017 05 08 at 10 55 44 am

It’s not just Google Home that Amazon Echo should be looking out for — there’s new competition from Harman International, too. Meet the new Harman Kardon Invoke, a voice-activated speaker that relies on Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana. And while the smart home hubs of other tech companies focus more on the AI assistants and their associated skills, Harman wants you to know that this accessory is first and foremost an impressive speaker.

The sleek cylindrical device looks a lot like the Amazon Echo, though its chrome finish looks a bit more refined than Amazon’s offerings. The Invoke boasts 360-degree speakers, Skype calling, and of course, control of your smart home by way of your voice. But it also comes with three woofers and three tweeters, while the Echo only has one of each. And to take advantage of this speaker’s capabilities, Microsoft is heralding the Invoke’s capacity to make and receive Skype calls not only to other Skype devices, but to cellphones and landlines, too.

“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,” said Michael Mauser, president of the 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.”

Already, Cortana boasts a pretty wide user base of 145 million individuals across devices and platforms, and its integration with Invoke may just bring it to an even larger number of households. “We are excited to partner with Harman Kardon to create a speaker that combines premium audio and stylish design with the intelligence of Cortana.” said Jordi Ribas, CVP, AI Products at Microsoft. “This is our next step in bringing Cortana to even more devices to help users be more productive wherever they are.”

The Invoke will be made available at “select retailers” and Microsoft Stores in the U.S. in the fall of 2017, and pricing has yet to be announced. That said, you can already start planning whether you’d like an Invoke in Pearl Silver (White) or Graphite (Black).

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