Microsoft plans to take on Amazon’s Alexa range with the release of a Cortana-supported smart speaker, developed by Samsung subsidiary Harman Kardon.

The product named ‘Invoke’ will retail for US$199 and will feature Cortana’s language recognition capability, combined with Microsoft’s own suite of productivity and knowledge tools – including Skype which will allow users to make calls to mobiles and landlines.

Harman has informed ChannelNews its Cortana-supported smart speaker will hit Australian shores around March 2018.

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As such, the smart speaker will allow individuals to manage their calendars, set reminders, check traffic and latest news, plus much more.

Harman Kardon’s Invoke smart speaker will encompass seven integrated microphones. Also integrated will be Harman’s Sonique far-field voice recognition technology.

Invoke will feature a proprietary 360-degree adaptive technology, which will recognise all details of voice commands.

Harman’s beam forming, echo cancellation and noise software algorithms will enable Cortana to clearly hear individuals, even when surrounded by high ambient noise.

The product will be available in Pearl Silver and Graphite.

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Microsoft claims Cortana is ‘the most productive digital assistant’, and currently boasts a user base of more than 145 million people on PC and mobile devices.

Harman’s President of Lifestyle Audio Division, Michael Mauser, states of the partnership with Microsoft:

“We’re excited to work with Microsoft to develop a premium speaker that will deliver an exceptional experience to every customer using 360-degree Harman Kardon sound and the intelligence of Cortana”.

“Voice-enabled technology is the future; by teaming up with Microsoft, we’re delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology, superior sound and the stunning design that is Harman Kardon’s hallmark”.

Speaking of the partnership with Harman, Jordi Ribas, CVP of AI Products at Microsoft states:

“This is our next step in bringing Cortana to even more devices to help users be more productive wherever they are”.

The smart speaker will require the Cortana app for Windows 10 PC/phone (with the Windows 10 Creators Update), Android (version 4.1.2 or above) or an iPhone 4 or newer with iOS 8.0 and above.

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