Microsoft To Announce Amazon Echo Competitor Next Year? Latest Hardware Partnership Could Be The First Of Many Cortana Speakers?


Software giant Microsoft has finally unveiled its plans to take on Amazon Echo, in which it released a new short video that gives a sneak peek into the company's hardware plans to compete with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't detail any specific hardware on the said teaser video.

Described by Microsoft as a voice-activated speaker device, the 30-seconds teaser video shows glimpses of a cylindrical design with the very same look as the Amazon Echo, but it appears to include a display at the top of the device that lights up with Cortana's user interface. The short video also shows a disembodied voice using the "Hey Cortana" command to play music through the speaker device, while the top of the device shows what looks like a circular display glowing with blue light.

According to The Verge, Microsoft has teamed up with audio powerhouse Harman Kardon to launch what appears to be a cylindrical voice-activated speaker device with Cortana personal assistant next year.Harman Kardon (soon-to-be-owned by Samsung) is the first third-party hardware maker to bring Microsoft Cortana to the rumored cylindrical voice-activated speaker, and its partnership with Microsoft could be the first of many planned Cortana-powered speakers.

As mentioned earlier in the Windows blog post, Microsoft said that the cylindrical device speaker is just one of the hardware solutions to come equipped with Cortana AI technology next year.

In addition to the audio device maker Harman Kardon, Microsoft is also teaming up with chipmaker giant Intel to allow hardware makers to build a device that incorporates the latest artificial intelligence with Cortana, and the ability to support advanced speech communications and voice technology.

Microsoft is not making any announcement for this week, nor are the Microsoft's device partners. But the software giant is hinting something new in the future, a possible competition to Amazon's Echo and Google Home.

According to some analyst, the announcement could be the first big step to the software giant's plans to offer any hardware makers the ability to take on Google Home and Amazon's AI-powered assistants Echo.

For now, there's still no official release date for the Cortana-enabled Harman Kardon-built device speaker, as the audio hardware has not announced availability and pricing details. But according to Engadget, the rumored Cortana-enabled speaker is set to debut sometime in 2017.

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