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‘Invoke’ is Microsoft’s answer to Amazon’s ‘Echo’ smart speaker

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Competitors to Amazon’s Echo, using intelligent virtual personal assistants that can respond to your voice, have been hitting the market lately. Microsoft & Samsung’s Harman/Kardon subsidiary is the latest & they just announced the availability of Invoke, a smart speaker that includes the Cortana personal assistant which already runs on Windows 10.

The Invoke is similar to the Amazon Echo or to Google’s offering, the Google Home. By using Cortana’s AI capabilities, Invoke allows users to maintain more nuanced conversations, going beyond the rudimentary conversational capabilities of its competitors.

The experience of Harman in consumer sound products & industrial design also help to differentiate the Invoke. It’s a small metal cylindrical tower design which will be available in black & silver finishes. It offers great 360 degree sound quality & will work well out of the box with music services like Microsoft Groove, Spotify, Pandora, to name a few.

Besides being able to have conversations, consult your calendar or have questions answered, Invoke’s Cortana back-end will let us make hands-free calls with Skype, including standard phone calls. It will also interface via voice with smart home connected devices.

Amazon & Microsoft are battling it out for dominance in the voice assistant market. Google & Apple are the other big players, & although Amazon, being 1st to market, currently has an edge, Microsoft is betting heavily on its experience with Cortana, which is already installed in over 400 million PCs & Tablets running Widows 10.

With regard to the competition & resulting innovation in this space, Amazon recently introduced its new Echo Look camera with ‘Computer Vision’, meant to be used in the bedroom to help you make fashion decisions. Meanwhile Microsoft’s competing tech in this space is the HoloLens goggles & their augmented reality (AR) capabilities, which overlays virtual images over the real world.

It’s expected that Microsoft will announce new integrations with Cortana at their Microsoft Build developers’ conference later in May in Seattle. The Invoke will be available in the fall of 2017 according to the Harman/Kardon site. You can register to be informed of its availability here.

You may also want to read: Amazon reveals the Echo Show

Image Credit: Harman/Kardon

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