Harman is a proponent of voice-controlled devices, and at IFA, the company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., served up a number of new products that will meet the customer's growing desire for the feature.
"Music streaming is the most popular use of personal digital assistants," points out Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at Harman, "and Harman is perfectly poised to deliver the premium sound that is missing in the market today with our selection of personal digital assistants from JBL and Harman Kardon. Customers want premium audio and design performance in their preferred platform or ecosystem and with more than 60 years of audio and innovation expertise, we are here to deliver."
Harman revealed the JBL Link at the show, a voice-activated speaker with Google Assistant built-in. Users can stream music, ask questions, manage everyday tasks, and easily control smart devices around the home, all by using voice commands. By saying "Ok, Google," the device can help perform tasks like playing a favourite song, finding recipes, or checking traffic before leaving the house.
There's also the new Harman Kardon Allure with Alexa from Amazon, an intelligent speaker powered by Amazon Alexa Voice Service. Allure offers 360-degree sound with ambient lighting that glows from within its housing, reacts to voice commands, and moves along to the rhythm of music. As expected, the Allure can be controlled by voice to do everything from playing back music, to reading the news, controlling smart home devices, and making purchases from Amazon Prime. Proprietary far-field voice technology allows the speaker to hear commands from a far distance, aided by the built-in four-microphone array with advanced noise cancellation technology. Alexa can also adapt to speech patterns, vocabulary, and unique personal preferences.
"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 Mauser. "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," adds Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, 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."
The Allure will sell for US$249.95 and will be available starting winter 2017. There's no word yet on Canadian availability; Harman products are distributed in Canada by Erikson Consumer.
Harman also confirms that the previously-announced Harman Kardon Invoke intelligent speaker with Cortana from Microsoft will soon be on the market. The voice-activated speaker can play favourite music, manage calendars and activities, set reminders, check traffic, deliver the latest news and more. Differentiating from other smart speakers on the market, however, is Skype integration, allowing users to make calls to cell phones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices. You can also control smart home devices using voice to do things like turn out the lights or control the temperature.