Microsoft teases premium smart speaker by Harman Kardon powered by Cortana

Microsoft is entering the smart speaker market in the premium segment, and has released a teaser video showing a device by Harman Kardon.

Microsoft has not entered the market with a device in the emerging smart speaker category. The Cortana digital assistant by Microsoft is capable of the home automation and personal assistance tasks carried out by Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, so it was only a matter of time Cortana was integrated with a smart speaker.

Microsoft is entering the market in the premium segment. A teaser video shows Cortana by Microsoft in a Harman Kardron speaker. The device is expected to be available from 2017. The details of the device, such as specifications, features, and compatibility are scarce as of now. We do not know if the eerie similarity to HAL, the rogue artificial intelligence from 2001: A Space Odyssey was deliberate.

The smart speaker by Microsoft on the left, HAL on the right.

The smart speaker by Microsoft on the left, HAL on the right.

The sneak peek is a signal to developers about the applications and capabilities of Cortana. With the newly released Cortana SDK, third party developers can start extending the capabilities of the artificial intelligence. Home automation, music streaming services, and connectivity with smart cars are some of the potential applications of a smart speaker by Microsoft.

Amazon Echo was the first product in this category. Amazon added the Echo Dot to its line up earlier this year, a smaller version of the Echo. Google took on Amazon earlier this year with the launch of Google Home. According to a report by Gartner, wireless speakers powered by intelligent assistants are expected to be a $2.1 billion market by 2020.

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