Harman Kardon Teases Invoke, A Microsoft Cortana-Powered Smart AI Speaker

Amazon and Google are duking it out in the smart home speaker market, the former with its Alexa-enabled Echo products and the latter with its Google Home device, but this is not a two-horse race. As the market grows, so does the competition. Harman Kardon has taken notice and is partnering with Microsoft to offer a smart speaker of its own, one that is powered by Cortana.

According to a new teaser page on Harman Kardon's website, it will introduce its Invoke smart speaker powered by Cortana sometime this fall. The voice-controller speaker will work similarly to the competition, allowing users to bark out commands to play music, make hands-free calls, and get answers to burning questions such as, "How many species of spiders are there?" The answer is 35,000 by the way, including 3,000 species in North America.

Harman Kardon Invoke
Image Source: Harman Kardon

"At the heart of Invoke is Cortana, your personal digital assistant, helping you stay on top of what’s important. Enhance every moment with captivating sound, voice control your music and smart home, make and receive hands-free calls with Skype, get answers to your questions, and more," Harman Kardon explains.

If Echo and Google Home were to hook up and have a child, we imagine Harman Kardon's Invoke speaker would be the result, at least in terms of looks, with Echo providing most of the dominant genes. It is a 360-degree speaker with a cylinder shape that gradually puffs out towards the base. Based on the handful of press photos available, it is a fairly attractive design and one that will be available in a variety of color options.

Microsoft first tipped that a smart speaker in collaboration with Harman Kardon was in the works back in December of last year. News of the forthcoming device hit at the same time Microsoft announced its Cortana Skills Kit and Cortana Devices SDK.

There is still no word on how much Invoke will cost. As points of reference, Echo runs $180 (currently on sale for $150) while Google Home costs $129 (currently on sale for $114).