Here Comes the Harmon Kardon Invoke

Posted on May 8, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Android, iOS, Windows 10 with 30 Comments

Here Comes the Harmon Kardon Invoke

Brad revealed Harmon Kardon’s secret website for its Cortana-powered Invoke smart speaker earlier today. But now the firm has come clean about the device and has provided a few more details.

“We’re excited to officially reveal the Cortana powered Harman Kardon Invoke smart home speaker,” a Microsoft representative told me. “The Harman Kardon Invoke speaker combines the rich, captivating sound that Harman Kardon is known for with your personal digital assistant, Cortana.”

“Our goal is to put Cortana everywhere you need assistance, and the Invoke speaker from Harman Kardon is our next step in getting there,” he added. “With Cortana on the Invoke speaker, you can play your favorite music, make Skype calls, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, deliver the latest news and so much more.”

You can see the Harmon Kardon Invoke website for yourself here. But here are some additional details about this device.

Harmon Kardon is owned by Samsung. And that is rather interesting when you think about it. The subsidiary focuses “on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets.”

Two colors. As Brad hinted at, the Invoke will come in two color choices: Graphite (Black) and Pearl Silver (White).

360 degree sound. Thanks to its cylindrical design, the Invoke provides 360 degree sound with “premium audio.”

Voice activated. The Invoke features Harmon Kardon’s SONIQUE-branded far-field voice recognition technology for voice activation and control. “It is a proprietary 360-degree adaptive technology (featuring 7 microphones) that recognizes all details of voice commands even in environments with high ambient noise,” the firm says. “It uses beam forming, echo cancellation, and noise reduction algorithms to ensure Cortana can hear you, even in challenging environments.”

Features. According to Harmon Kardon, the Invoke can “can play your favorite music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, deliver the latest news and much more. With Skype integration, you can make calls to cellphones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices. You can also control your smart home devices [from select providers] using voice to do things like turn out the lights or control the temperature.”

“Touch to surprise” The Invoke features a unique “touch to surprise” user interface panel at the top of the speaker, interactive Cortana lighting, and intuitive buttons. “It is the first of its kind to feature Skype integration, allowing users to make and receive crystal-clear, hands-free calls,” Harmon Kardon claims.

Availability. As you should have expected, the Invoke will only be sold in the United States, at select retailers including the Microsoft Store, starting “in fall 2017”.

Requirements. You will need a Windows 10 PC or the Cortana app on Android or iPhone to setup the Invoke.


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Comments (30)

30 responses to “Here Comes the Harmon Kardon Invoke”

  1. bbold

    Will it also be available online in the U.S.? My nearest Microsoft Store is 800 miles away, which is odd considering I live in the city where Microsoft was born (something they need to rectify soon!) Can't wait :)

  2. Awhispersecho

    And it already looks lacking compared to the new Echo coming out which will allow for video calls. This may be nicer looking but an Echo which shows you products and allows users to make video calls to each other makes this look obsolete before it's even released. As usual, too slow, too late and 2 steps behind. Another fine job MS.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Awhispersecho:

      If it doesn't do Skype or FaceTime (at a minimum) that is a useless feature to most of the world. Sorry but Amazon has the same problem that Google has - they have devices that are not paired up with the main computing device for most people. If they had been smarter they would have fully setup compatible apps on Windows but they have made a miscalculation that by not supporting Windows it would strengthen them and weaken MS. It looks like they are both going to get zipped hard now.

  3. glenn8878

    Interesting specs. Wouldn't this logically fit as a PC speaker with mic and Cortana capability. Just so it would get a headstart with every PC sold in a bundle.

  4. Angusmatheson

    what I think is interesting about this space is why isn't Apple there. When Apple bought Beats I assumed they would make some good airplay speakers at least. Then with Echo and mesh networks - a google home like Apple or Beats speaker seems like a no brainer. But now, Amazon, Google, and this Cortana based one are out...and we hear nothing about an Apple device. The old airport express has a 3.5mm audio out, which always seems like an inelegant solution. And blue tooth and airplay speakers are such a pain. This seems like even just sonos style speakers - would be very Apple. And they have Siri - why not throw that in.

    • Jorge Garcia

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      I hate when people say "traditionally Apple..." but it is true; they do like to wait and see what sticks before "surprising the world" with the correct (and revolutionary) version. I wonder if this time they will be left out in the cold, though, for being too far behind and inaccessible $$$.

      • PincasX

        In reply to Jorge Garcia:

        Given that Amazon's product is only sold in three countries, Google Home is in two and this Harmon/MS solution is going to be limited to one Apple has a bit of room to be late to the party and still do well. Heck, they just have to do four countries and they will have access to a larger market than their compitors.

  5. Pierre Masse

    It is obviously just another patience test for the few Microsoft's fans left.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to Pierre Masse:

      Not at all. I myself am really enjoying seeing all of the strategy between all of these companies. Right now it looks like MS is closing in on all of their competitors with a much more cohesive solution bridging productivity and consumer use scenarios. I personally think that most of their opportunities have gotten away from them already - too little, too late.

  6. Daekar

    If this thing is responsive, will work with multiple Microsoft accounts, and has good voice recognition, it will be the first IoT device in my home. Hope they are hard at work integrating it with various services.

  7. alejandro

    I really want one of these devices. My primary concern though is, as it stands, whenever I say "hey Cortana" my Xbox, laptop, and Lumia 950XL all turn on and listen for a command. His MS going to address this bigger and louder thing also activating?

  8. EnterMegatron99

    Does anyone know MS's aversion to opening up Cortana and devices outside the US? I mean, Canada can't even get this device? It's this half-baked sales that will prevent me from buying this as I fear it'll be dropped just like the Band.

    Why is Cortana not worldwide yet, but available only in 13 countries so far?

    • Vuppe

      In reply to EnterMegatron99:

      I have a feeling this is due to lack of data. They haven't been collecting data as long or as vehemently as Google. Assistants need a copious amount of data to be even half-useful.

      • robincapper

        In reply to Vuppe:

        You can hack Cortana on to Windows here in NZ (but not other platforms) and it is useful with the current data. Just slap a beta tag on it like Google did for a decade or so.

        • EnterMegatron99

          In reply to robincapper:

          I would argue that the fact that you have to 'hack' it to work in a ridiculous step that you shouldn't have to take. NZ is an English speaking, 1st world long as Bing works in NZ...Cortana ought to be just fine. If its not...MS has had years now to get it working. Canada, all of Europe, should all be 'live' on Cortana by now.

  9. Mark from CO


    I don't get this US centric thing at all.  Seems this is pervasive across many of Microsoft's products.  I know you disagree on this, but when the Lumias were put in the dustbin, Microsoft had up to10% of the market in several European countries, a foothold if they wanted to do more.  Microsoft can't be a global brand when everything seems to be locked up in the US.  This just seems to be more of the same confused strategy when it comes to mobile.

    Further, Microsoft is at least third to the market in this area, and has really no consumer base to build off. Is Microsoft ready to invest $ and people resources into this?  Recent past actions is not encouraging.  Is this just the next Band, with perhaps a shorter expiration date?  I'm sure Samsung will not be that patient with this...

    Mark from CO

    • Narg

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      Locality for companies is a big thing, no matter where in the World they are. It's just easier to start at home first. But then, selling things in other countries is not a piece of cake, due to tariffs, laws and other B.S. Few companies even bother, and it's not much easier for big companies. And, with today's political climate, it's only getting harder. So, stop blaming the companies, blame your politicians!

      • wright_is

        In reply to Narg:

        On the other hand, the Zune was only available in the USA, the iPod worldwide.

        The Band only available in the USA (later Canada and UK, ISTR), Apple Watch, Fitbit, Pebble, Android Wear from various companies, available in many parts of the world.

        And the big products, like Windows, Office get a global release, XBox and Surface get a rolled out release (we had to wait about 4 months for each Surface Pro generation and the Surface Book went on sale here last month, officially).

        As a Microsoft user, it is very frustrating. You see a great product come out, it only sells in the USA, it doesn't sell well compared to the competition - because the competition is available globally - and then it is canned, before it even makes it outside the US borders.

      • robincapper

        In reply to Narg:

        "It's just easier to start at home first" Agree but Cortana arrived with Windows 8 when? Still not available here in New Zealand and not a peep that it ever will be

      • Mark from CO

        In reply to Narg:
        I understand your point, though a multitude of other multinational companies seem to be able to work much faster through issues than Microsoft.
        Mark from CO 

        • mebby

          In reply to Mark from CO: I agree with Narg on Microsoft's approach. But I think it speaks to Microsoft's tendency to start on something and then abandon it after initial setbacks. See Band, as you noted.

          They start something US-centric, then either kill it or focus their resources on US-only after it has limited success.

  10. jbinaz

    "in fall 2017". Ridiculous considering it was teased in December last year (at least I think it was December). Almost a year between being announced and released.

  11. rameshthanikodi

    "the Invoke will only be sold in the United States"

    sometimes I think America behaves like they're the only country in the world or something.

  12. chrisrut

    HK - or anyone else - could have put a screen on such a device easily. And of course will. That's the kind of product variation that people with little to no imagination think of as innovation.

    Microsoft's bet is that the real innovations in this space will be the AI component, and real-time natural language interactions. And my bet is that they won't start trying to deliver to some cultures until the base neural network engines are solid. That's one of those "hard computer science problems" that get tossed about like fruit salad by many.

    Meaning, any moron can see that it is to MS's advantage to release everywhere. Therefore, they must have a reason. "Stupid" is one option. There are others worth considering.

    Me, I'm excited by what will be happening in late 2017 and into 2018. I expect an AI revolution. And not just from MS.