Move over, Google Home and Amazon Echo. There’s a new player in town. Microsoft recently made an announcement that a new voice-activated speaker featuring Cortana is on its way to production. Harmon Kardon, a pretty popular name in the high quality sound business, is going to be offering Microsoft’s personal assistant in a sleek looking speaker called Invoke. The release is expected in Fall of 2017.
Pictured above, Invoke will have premium 360 sound and offer the goodies you’ve come to expect in a personal digital assistant for the home: music, calendar management, reminders, traffic details, news, and more. It also utilizes the best of Microsoft’s technology, which includes Skype, where users can make calls to cellular devices, landlines, or other Skype users. And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that it will also establish partnerships with companies to make your smart home smarter, with light and temperature controls.
Cortana is already in the households of over 145 million people through Windows applications on the desktop and phone. Currently, the device is only available in the US and requires Windows 10 (on a PC or a phone), Android 4.1.2 and above, or iPhone 4 (and up) with iOS 8.0 or above.
More Cortana coming your way
Cortana has also announced a public preview of the Cortana Skills Kit which gives developers the power to create personalized Cortana experiences. A skill can be built by creating a bot — that bot’s conversational logic should be built within Microsoft’s Bot Framework and published to the Cortana Channel within the Bot Framework. Using LUIS.ai, developers should be able to understand users’ natural inputs and build custom machine-learned language models, and with Cognitive Services, intelligence can be added to the experience as well.
Microsoft has partnered up with a number of companies to build Cortana skills within the United States: OpenTable, Expedia, Capital One, StubHub, Food Network, Hewlett Packard, iHeartRadio, Domino’s, TuneIn, Uber, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Knowmail, MovieTickets.com, Tact, MyTime, Skyscanner, Fresh Digital, Gigseekr, Gupshup, Matchbox Mobile, The Motley Fool, Ask My Buddy, Patron, Porch, Razorfish, StarFish Mint, TalkLocal, UPS, WebMD, Pylon, BigOven, CityFALCON, Dark Sky, Elokence, BLT Robotics, Web Guild, AI Games, XAPP Media, cWix, GameOn, MegaSuperWeb, Verge, and Vokkal.co.
That’s a pretty good start for what looks like a good contender in the home assistant market.