Harman Kardon has launched the Invoke, a voice-activated smart speaker that will take on Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s rumored Siri-powered device. The Invoke is powered by Microsoft’s Cortana assistant, and will support voice commands, manage calendars, stream music and control smart home appliances around the home.
It is made from premium materials, and the Invoke will be offered in Graphite Black and Peal Silver. The speaker provides 360-degree audio and a cylindrical shape not too different from the Amazon Echo. Harman is promising superior sound quality, with three woofers, three tweeter, and two passive radiators. The Invoke will use far-field technology and seven microphones, meaning it will be able to pick up voice even in a noisy environment.
There’s something called a “touch to surprise’ user interface panel at the top of the speaker, although Harman hasn’t announced how it will work. Interestingly, the speaker will support hands-free calling through Skype, allowing users to make calls to mobile devices running the Microsoft-owned communications platform.
“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”, he added.
The Invoke is currently exclusive to the US market, and will be ready to ship later this year. Pricing details haven’t been announced, but we can expect to learn more at Microsoft’s Build conference later in the day. The conference runs from May 10 to May 12.