Following Harman's first foray into the Voice Personal Assistant segment with the Invoke speaker, combining Harman Kardon’s brand and audio heritage with Microsoft Cortana voice-activated technology, now Harman International follows with another design featuring Amazon's Alexa. It must be said that the Invoke effort with Microsoft was already ongoing when Harman was acquired by Samsung - which has meanwhile launched its own voice assistant technology, called Bixby. At IFA 2017, Harman is also launching the new JBL LINK series of voice-activated speakers supporting the Google Assistant VPA. The fact that Harman now announces another voice-activated speaker to the family, featuring Amazon's Alexa, shows that the company is determined to leverage the trend and test the market with multiple different approaches, including two completely different designs.
"Harman Kardon Allure is hands free and controlled by voice commands. Just ask Alexa to play music, read the news, control a smart home, make purchases from Amazon Prime, and more. Even in noisy environments, proprietary far-field voice technology allows the speaker to hear commands from a far distance. Alexa is always getting smarter and users can already enable more than 20,000 skills, as provided by the AVS ecosystem," says the announcement.
The transparent design of the Allure was intended to enhance its powerful 360-degree sound, together with an ambient light that glows from within. The design features multiple drivers and a subwoofer, while the multicolored ambient light will react to the voice commands and move along with the rhythm of the music.
The Allure also features dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and a built-in 4-microphone array with advanced noise cancellation technology for far-field voice capture. Other specifications are still to be confirmed.
“We’re excited, to integrate with Amazon Alexa to deliver a beautiful speaker with astounding audio coupled with all the intelligent features of Alexa,” says Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at Harman. “Research shows the number one use of digital voice services is music streaming and Allure with its premium sound quality, iconic design, and exceptional voice-enabled technology, will produce a spectacular sound experience while delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology.”
“The Allure smart speaker will bring Harman Kardon’s premium audio and the 20,000+ skills available for Amazon Alexa to even more customers,” says Steve Rabuchin, VP Amazon Alexa. “This is a great benefit for customers who love quality music and want a voice service in their home. Customers can just ask Alexa to play great sounding music, control their smart home, get news or weather, play games, order food, and more.”
Harman Kardon Allure with Amazon Alexa ($249.95) will be available for purchase starting winter 2017 on www.harmankardon.com and www.amazon.com