A new short video gives us a sneak peak into Microsoft's hardware plans to take on Amazon's Echo and Google's Home. The company is partnering with audio giant Harman Kardon to debut what appears to be a cylindrical speaker device equipped with Cortana in 2017. The teaser shows a disembodied voice using the "Hey Cortana" command to play music through the speaker, while the top of the device shows what looks like a circular display glowing with blue light.
In a Windows blog post, Microsoft says this is just one of the hardware solutions to come equipped with Cortana next year. Although the video is short, the uncanny resemblance to Amazon's Echo is hard to deny. Amazon recently updated the Echo to include better speakers, but Microsoft apparently decided to go with the audio experts at Harman Kardon to emphasize the music-playing ability of the device.
The Echo also has a blue ring of light at the top of its cylindrical body that glows when you speak to Alexa, and Microsoft appears to be going for the same kind of functionality, except with a display. Over the past week, Microsoft has detailed its plans to bring Cortana across a number of devices, including Internet of Things products, but have a screen is a requirement. Depending on when Harman Kardon's device debuts next year, Microsoft may beat Amazon to the punch by coming out with a screen- and voice assistant-equipped speaker; rumors states Amazon may be working on something similar.