Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker is a Cortana-powered take on an Amazon Echo

After a leak this morning, Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered speaker has now been officially announced. As teased earlier, the Invoke speaker will offer 360-degree speakers, Skype calling, and smart home control all through voice commands.

Design-wise, the Invoke strongly resembles Amazon’s Echo that its meant to compete with: both offer a similar cylindrical aluminum shape, light ring, and a seven-microphone array.

That said, Harmon Kardon seems to be taking the “speaker” portion of its functionality more seriously than Amazon does, with the Invoke offering three woofers and three tweeters (compared to the Echo, which offers just a single of each driver). Microsoft is also highlighting the Invoke’s ability to make and receive Skype calls to other Skype devices as well as cellphones and landlines, which is an interesting addition to a home assistant.

The Invoke serves as the first attempt from Microsoft to expand its Cortana assistant away from computers and phones and into a more useful home setting, something that we’ll likely hear more about in the coming days as the company’s Build developer conference fast approaches.

Harmon Kardon is planning on shipping the Invoke this fall, although no exact release date or price has been announced.

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