Microsoft is gearing up for an assault on the Amazon Echo

Harmon  Kardon

The Harman Kardon Invoke will apparently come in two colors, black and silver and the device is expected to go on sale some time in the fall.

Amazon's Echo has also been in the news recently as it is believed to be getting an upgrade soon with a new model featuring a touchscreen - a product which could steal attention from the Harman Kardon Invoke, and will likely launch ahead of it. You can also control your smart home devices using voice to do things like turn out the lights or control the temperature. The speaker will project sound or have the ability to pick up sound from a full 360 degrees.

For Microsoft, the Invoke aids the company's long-term plans for its Cortana assistant. Since this is a Microsoft product, that means Microsoft services, so you'll be using Skype to make voice calls, Cortana to keep your calendar and-in what you might rightly consider "the catch"-Bing for searches". While Skype does make audio-only calls, we're wondering if these companies could pack a webcam into the Invoke to make it a video-conferencing device.

Nevertheless, Microsoft maintains that Cortana will offer an edge over its rivals, citing the digital assistant's widespread adoption on Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices. "With Invoke, Cortana now becomes available in the home, making her even more valuable". Inside, the Invoke sports 7 microphones that enable H/K's Sonique far-field voice recognition technology, to better pick up voice commands across the room. Harman Kardon is a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung, the same company that just launched Bixby, its own digital assistant.

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Harman Kardon is now accepting pre-registrations for the Invoke's launch.

As for the Amazon Echo Look camera, it's really a bet on tech called "computer vision", basically turning cameras into "eyes" for artificial intelligence systems.

Available in the US sometime in the fall of 2017, the Harman Kardon Invoke will produce sound using three woofers and three tweeters arranged to deliver 360-degree sound.

Meanwhile, Amazon is reinforcing its position as the leader in the burgeoning market for voice assistants: Earlier this month, Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, a camera for the bedroom powered by the Alexa voice assistant.

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