Harman harnesses Cortana to enter voice control market

Man speaking to Harman Kardon Invoke

Integrations with Microsoft’s Cortana for voice control in the home aren’t new, but Harman’s launch of the Harman Kardon Invoke adds a big name audio manufacturer to an increasingly crowded market.

The product combines Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana (that has already racked up more than 145 million users) with a voice activated Harman Kardon speaker.

In a prepared statement, Michael Mauser, president of the lifestyle audio division at Harman, said: “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.”

Harman Kardon Invoke in black and whiteHarman says Invoke can play music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic and deliver news.  What’s more it’s claiming a first with Skype integration to support hands-free calling. And of course it offers control of smart home devices by voice.

The unit will be available in Pearl Silver (white) and Graphite (black) and offers 360-degree sound. It uses Harman’s proprietary Sonique far-field voice recognition technology and contains seven microphones. Professional technologies developed by Harman – including echo cancellation and noise reduction algorithms – were also used to create the product. 

You’ll have to wait a while to get your hands on one however. Harman is saying the product won’t be available until the autumn and then in the USA only. There’s currently no information on when it will head to Europe.