by Dan Moren
Harman/Kardon teams with Microsoft to get into smart speaker game
Everybody’s gotta have a smart speaker now, it seems. The Invoke–a name designed to run an eldritch chill up your spine?–embeds Microsoft’s Cortana assistant into a cylinder that looks a lot like an Amazon Echo. The major selling points seem to be Harman/Kardon’s long-running expertise at making high quality audio devices and the ability to make hands-free calls with Skype–something which neither Google Home or the Amazon Echo does at present.1
At the moment, there isn’t much else listed for functionality, other than the usual voice control of music and some (it’s not specified which) smart home accessories, the ability for the Invoke to answer your questions and a vague “get things done with Cortana” bullet point. No price point is listed for the speaker, though I’d guess we’re talking something in the range of the original Echo, rather than the cheaper Dot.
The real question is at what point the market is saturated with these things? It’s not hard to see why Amazon is busy building out its Echo lineup with cameras and screens: they’re trying to stay a step ahead of all the competitors that are just getting around to launching their Echo killers.
- Pairing your smartphone with your Echo via Bluetooth would presumably let you take calls, but it’s not fully integrated. ↩