Microsoft has revealed details of the first voice-controlled speaker to be powered by its smart assistant Cortana to take on Amazon’s Echo last week, but the company didn’t detail any specific hardware products. Harman Kardon is the first third-party device maker to bring Cortana to a speaker, and it’s teasing its audio hardware that will debut next year. In a 30-second video, the speaker looks very much like an Amazon Echo, but it appears to include a display at the top that lights up with Cortana’s user interface. The video comes a week after Microsoft said it planned to bring Cortana to other smart home kit including thermostats, fridges and toasters.
Microsoft has been detailing its plans for Cortana on devices with screens over the past week, and it appears the company is going to make the screen a requirement for bringing Cortana to Internet of Things devices. The software giant used fridges, toasters, and thermostats as example devices for Cortana, but it’s clear this initial speaker from Harman Kardon will be the first of many that will allow Microsoft’s digital assistant to better compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home products. Harman Kardon hasn’t announced pricing or availability, but the speaker is set to debut some time in 2017. However, the tie-up with Harman Kardon might be short-lived because the firm’s parent company is in the process of being taken over by Samsung, which is working on a smart assistant of its own.