Microsoft Cortana-Powered Speaker Challenges Amazon's Echo With Skype Calls

"The Harman Kardon Invoke speaker combines the rich, captivating sound that Harman Kardon is known for with your personal digital assistant, Cortana". It's an Amazon Echo-esque design with a cylindrical body packed with 360-degrees of speakers.

Harman Kardon's Cortana-powered speaker, called Invoke, is set to launch in the Fall, and while it hasn't been properly announced yet, a product page for it did briefly appear on the web, revealing numerous juicy details.

If the device launches as advertised, Skype calling could be Microsoft's big ticket. According to a new teaser page on Harman Kardon's website, it will introduce its Invoke smart speaker powered by Cortana sometime this fall.

Users will have a choice between Pearl Silver and Graphite, however the device will only be available in the U.S. sometime this fall.

The Invoke relies on Microsoft's Cortana for its digital assistance technology. "This is our next step in bringing Cortana to even more devices to help users be more productive wherever they are".

That's now not a feature supported by either Google Home or Amazon Echo, though it's rumored to be in development for both devices. Microsoft is also hoping that partnering with Harmon Kardon means its speaker can avoid one of the bigger problems with these devices-their tendency to sound cheap and tinny.

While the landing page doesn't give a definitive launch date, it does note that the Invoke will be available from "fall 2017".

Cortana -Personal Digital Assistant: Cortana is your truly personal digital assistant created to help you be more productive.

Google got in on the action in 2016, a year after the Echo, with a similar device, the Google Home, that uses the company's own take on voice-activated software.

Dave Rogers, Harman's senior vice president of consumer audio, said the Invoke will have superior audio quality, an area where the consumer electronics maker has expertise.

SONIQUE Far-Field Voice technology: Featuring 7 microphones embedded into the speaker, using Harman's beam forming, echo cancellation, and noise reduction algorithms to ensure Cortana can hear you, even in challenging environments.

For Microsoft, the Invoke aids the company's long-term plans for its Cortana assistant.

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