Harman Kardon Invoke – Would it break the market?
“Cortana remind me to buy concert tickets”. This is how the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker reveal video ended at the Microsoft Build 2017 conference. Another player has entered the smart home assistant market. Microsoft has partnered with leading audio equipment manufacturing company Harman Kardon to bring to you their Cortana powered smart speaker – Invoke.
Amazon Echo dominates the smart home speaker market. It was launched in 2014. The Alexa powered device have a 70% market share in the home automation assistants business. Google then joined the race with their own home assistant – Google Home. Just a day ago apple has unveiled their smart speaker as well – Apple Homepod.
“We are excited to partner with Harman Kardon to create a speaker that combines premium audio and stylish design with the intelligence of Cortana, This is our next step in bringing Cortana to even more devices to help users be more productive wherever they are.” said Jordi Ribas, corporate vice president of AI Products at Microsoft.
Invoke Smart Speaker Features
The Harman Kardon Invoke is a voice activated smart speaker that is powered by Microsoft Cortana. Invoke can play music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic and read out the latest news among other things.
The speaker seamlessly integrates with Skype. You can make hands-free calls to mobile phones, landlines and other Skype enabled devices.
Invoke will be compatible with certain home automation devices. This will let you use your voice to do things like turn out the lights or control the temperature.
At the Build 2017 conference Microsoft mentioned Cortana skills kit which would most likely be similar to the skills that Amazon Alexa uses.
Harman Kardon Invoke Specifications
The speaker has a curved metallic grill that comes in either “pearl silver” (white) or graphite (black).
The cylindrical design of Invoke helps it project sound in 360 degrees.
It also features 7 microphones and “far-field voice recognition technology” that recognizes all details of voice commands, even in environments with high ambient noise.
Invoke Speaker Setup
Set up requires Cortana app for Windows 10 PC or phone. Android or iPhone (requires Android version 4.1.2 or higher, or iPhone 4 with iOS 8.0 or higher).
MSpoweruser recently reported that a new update to the Cortana App was released to specific devices. This update added a devices section that lets you set up the Harman Kardon Invoke.
Going by the screenshots you can see that apart from Microsoft’s Groove Music, the Harman Kardon Invoke supports the leading music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Radio.
Harman Kardon Invoke Pricing and Release Date
The Amazon Echo and Google Home are looking to make it to the homes of regular consumers and are priced below $200. Whereas the Apple Homepod is still aiming at the luxury consumer market with the launch price of $349.
Going by the pricing of its competitors, the Harman Kardon Invoke should ideally be priced around the 200$ mark for it to break into the market at a competitive footing. No official announcement of the pricing has been made.
The Harman Kardon Invoke is set to launch in Fall 2017 only in the US.
Our Thoughts on the Harman Kardon Invoke
The integration with Skype gives the Invoke an edge over the other existing smart speakers. This feature will make calling very easily accessible via a few commands.
The partnership with major music streaming services is also a huge boost to Harman Kardon Invoke.
Going by the existing features and if it is sold at a reasonable price, the Invoke can give Amazon and Google a run for their money.
Also read our review of the Amazon Echo Show