The Harman Allure connected speaker was announced today, and it can perhaps be best described as a Rorschach test. We’ve seen some liken it to a food processor; we’re seeing a police siren! At least we can probably all agree on the sound part — the Allure is a Harman Kardon 360-degree speaker that works with Amazon’s Alexa.
Harman introduced the speaker today at IFA 2017 as its latest foray into smart home speakers. It’ll work exactly like an Echo — add Alexa skills, issue commands, and have Alexa run your home and do errands for you. Harman is simply bringing their audio expertise to the table, giving the speaker higher-quality speakers and audio processing. The Allure will play sound in 360 degrees, so it should make for a solid little party speaker.
That brings us the Allure’s party trick — that semi-transparent dome on top is for the built-in ambient light Harman has included. That light will pulsate when you give voice commands and can move to the beat of the music — we guess it’s sort of the same idea as their JBL Pulse series of speakers, but maybe not as cool looking.
The Allure comes after the announcement of the Harman Kardon Invoke during the week of the Microsoft Build conference. That speaker looks more like an Amazon Echo, but uses Cortana as the digital assistant — it’s slated to go on sale this fall, but we haven’t heard about a hard ship date.
We do know that now, you can pick between the Allure and the Invoke based on looks alone. Yesterday, Amazon and Microsoft revealed that Alexa and Cortana will be able to issue each other commands by the end of the year. When that happens, you’d be able to use the Allure speaker to tell Alexa to tell Cortana to do something — it’s a roundabout way of doing things, but both Microsoft and Amazon say they’re working on making the partnership more user-friendly.
An interesting wrinkle to all this is that Harman is now owned by Samsung. Despite that, Samsung appears to not be pushing Harman toward supporting Samsung products primarily. Then again, this might not be that much of a surprise — when the acquisition was announced, Samsung made it clear that they were buying Harman more for their connected and autonomous car technologies than their audio, so the bigger company might be content to let a historically successful consumer audio division alone as is.
The Harman Kardon Allure is slated to arrive in winter of this year for a pretty steep $250.
Check out more of our IFA 2017 coverage right here!