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This is Microsoft's first Amazon Echo competitor

This is Microsoft's first Amazon Echo competitor


Cortana in a Harman Kardon speaker

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Microsoft unveiled its plans to take on Amazon’s Echo last week, but the company didn’t detail any specific hardware products. Harman Kardon is the first third-party device maker to bring Cortana to a speaker, and it’s teasing its audio hardware that will debut next year. In a 30-second video, the speaker looks very much like an Amazon Echo, but it appears to include a display at the top that lights up with Cortana’s user interface.

Microsoft has been detailing its plans for Cortana on devices with screens over the past week, and it appears the company is going to make the screen a requirement for bringing Cortana to Internet of Things devices. The software giant used fridges, toasters, and thermostats as example devices for Cortana, but it’s clear this initial speaker from Harman Kardon will be the first of many that will allow Microsoft’s digital assistant to better compete with Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home products. Harman Kardon hasn’t announced pricing or availability, but the speaker is set to debut some time in 2017.