Microsoft was long believed to be interested in a Smart Speaker system that would invariably work with its always-on, internet-connected virtual assistant Cortana. The company’s rivals, including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s virtual assistant all have premium speakers which sync with the respective platforms. However, after Microsoft significantly scaled down its push for Cortana, those rumors subdued.
But a recently uncovered patent for a smart speaker has essentially confirmed that Microsoft could soon launch a sleek, puck-shaped smart speaker that would sync with Cortana, and offer several features that would rival the other platforms. Reports, however, indicate that Microsoft might restrict the Cortana-enabled smart speaker to its increasingly popular Teams platform. The reports allege that Microsoft is interested in designing, developing and manufacturing the seemingly miniature smart speaker to augment its corporate collaboration strategy.
Microsoft Cortana-Enabled Smart Speaker To Support Teams Application Only?
It is no secret that Microsoft’s virtual assistant hasn’t been able to gain as much traction as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. However, a recently filed patent clearly indicates Microsoft is finally making its own smart speaker. The miniature, internet-connected wireless and portable smart speaker could help businesses or give a boost to Cortana.
Microsoft filed an application for a portable speaker patent in August 2017 which became publicly accessible this week. The miniature smart speaker from Microsoft looks similar to Google’s Home Mini in size. It seems even the choice of materials is similar. A Microsoft Teams’ Design Manager and Dustin Brown, from the company’s Envisioning Labs division, are listed as inventors. The names imply Microsoft could be primarily developing the smart speaker for its Teams platform.
Which digital assistants are people using?
19% – Microsoft Cortana
25% – Amazon Alexa
36% – Apple Siri
36% – Google Assistant
About 75% of households will have at least one smart speaker by 2020.
— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) July 19, 2019
Microsoft has been trying to improve meetings and conferences better with its variety of products and services. With continuous improvements, Microsoft Teams has become an important platform that has been gaining ground against popular alternatives to office productivity platforms. Teams and Cortana might be two completely separate platforms, but the Microsoft-branded smart speaker would invariably end up syncing with Cortana while lending support to the Teams platform.
Microsoft recently revealed an interesting cone-shaped microphone array, which was codenamed “Princeton Tower”. Incidentally, audio-only microphone array Dev Kit (DDKs) can be purchased for around $100. But Microsoft’s iteration packs advanced audio-visual microphone array DDKs. However, their distribution is restricted to commercial operations and business, and they have to approach Microsoft systems integration partners for the same.
Microsoft Smart Speaker Is The Last Piece Of Technology For Teams Platform?
An interesting project reportedly going on under the Microsoft Research Project is codenamed “Project Denmark”. The project is attempting to set up a large “virtual” array of microphones using consumer-grade electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops that usually come with ordinary microphones. The newly discovered patent could be the last piece of hardware that completes the audio-visual package needed to conduct meetings.
— Windows Latest (@WindowsLatest) September 10, 2019
The Microsoft-branded puck-shaped Cortana smart speaker could certainly pair well with the software-driven microphone array. However, as with the case of every patent application, there’s no confirmation that Microsoft will manufacture the product based on the patent. Nonetheless, if Microsoft is indeed committed to the Cortana-enabled smart speaker for Teams platform, it could launch it next month at its hardware launch event scheduled to take place on October 2.