Voice is one of the easiest ways to interact with any gadget.
It is also fun and feels very natural. The popularity of smart
speakers in recent times proves it. The big players like
Amazon, Google, and even Apple has already got their share of
the smart speaker segment. The only Cortana powered smart
speaker that came to the market was the Harmon Kardon Invoke.
But because of Cortana being not as popular as the other
assistants, it never really stole much market share.
But that will not keep Microsoft from thinking of making a
smart speaker themselves instead of relying on hardware
partners. Microsoft is reportedly working on a Cortana powered
smart speaker along with Quanta Computer, which is a Taiwanese
manufacturer. If this speaker ever sees daylight, then Quanta
Computer would be manufacturing it.
At CES 2018, Qualcomm announced that their Smart audio platform
will begin support for Cortana. The report also mentions that
the smart speaker will be powered by the Snapdragon 212 SoC. It
is powered by 4 ARM Cortex A7 processors and has a clock speed
of up to 1.3 GHz. Snapdragon 212 was originally designed for
smartphones and likewise devices but now has IoT core built
into it. This may not seem like a powerful chip but a smart
speaker doesn’t need good processing power as everything
is done in the cloud.
Microsoft works on a lot of products, but only a few make it to
the market. So we should take this with a grain of salt as the
hardware design of this device is in the very early stages. A
lot of things have to be considered before they decide to
manufacture it in large scale.
It is also not clear what branding this device will have
because this design can also be made just as a reference for
other manufacturers. If Microsoft is planning to manufacture
the speaker in their own name, then it is very likely that it
will fall under the Surface brand.
Many people might have rejected the Harmon Kardon Invoke smart
speaker just because it is powered by Cortana. But one
thing to remember is that Cortana is more intelligent than Siri
but not as intelligent as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
At Build 2018, Microsoft has finally announced the much awaited
Cortana-Alexa integration. This means that the Cortana
powered speaker will also have Alexa in it. This will
definitely make it more appealing. Soon Amazon Echo speakers
will also have Cortana integrated into them. So by the time
this speaker actually launches in the market, Cortana will
hopefully get the love it deserves from the people.