Correction: In a recent ranking by Stone Temple, Cortana was found to be just behind Google Assistant as the second smartest digital assist.
Microsoft is getting into the smart speaker market, working with Samsung-owned Harman Kardo unit to launch the device this fall, The Verge reports. Named "Invoke," the Cortana-powered device is set to enter a crowded market already dominated by Amazon's Echo and Google Home.
Similar in shape to Amazon's Echo, the Invoke features 360-degree speakers, voice commands and the ability to make Skype calls to cell phones, landlines and other devices that have Skype, according to The Verge.
- Marketed as a personal digital assistant, Harman Kardon is touting its experience making speaker systems to emphasize the product's sound quality to help users "get things done with Cortana."
Though a little late, Microsoft's technology has joined the home assistant craze. But unlike rivals Amazon Echo and Google Home, the Cortana digital assistant will also allow users to make phone calls via the product’s integration with Skype.
That's not to say other products on the market aren't planning similar offerings. Amazon plans to unveil a new version of Echo this month that will incorporate a 7-inch touch screen with the ability to make phone calls or video conference, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Invoke isn’t set to launch until fall, so by the time it comes out it may already have been outdone by the new Echo.
Though these types of speaker-based digital assistants were designed for the consumer space, enterprises could soon take to the technology for all types of time saving.
Just last month, IBM's Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit and Harman Professional Solutions group announced they are working together on an artificial intelligence-based Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms that combine IBM interfaces and cognitive computing with Harman’s audio tools. The technology could be implemented in corporate spaces if it proves to effectively save businesses time and money and make time-consuming tasks easier to accomplish.
The big question for many users is just how "smart" these devices really are. If Cortana, Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant struggle to answer questions and interact with users, many may turn to other tools. In a recent ranking by Stone Temple, Google Assistant was found to be the smartest digital personal assistant, while Cortana ranked just behind it.