Harman has been demonstrating some impressively integrated voice control technology at ISE, using its new partnership with IBM and its ‘Watson’ solution.

Whilst other companies have been demonstrating some improvements and advances partnering with Amazon’s Echo and Dot products, Harman’s solution appears to be further advanced as the technology is integrated fully into its products.

Harman has been using a demo area it called ‘Voice-Enabled Cognitive Rooms’ to show off the functionality built directly into a JBL Horizon alarm clock.

Harman says its voice-enabled cognitive rooms concept represents a powerful solution that integrates IBM’s Watson AI with its own AKG microphones, JBL speakers and AMX AV control and switching systems to create an intuitive voice interface for end users and an enterprise-grade management interface for building operators.

The maker is targeting hotels and conference rooms with its initial demo, but other suggested areas include cruise ships and other hospitality environments; in fact the technology could be applied anywhere this type of functionality might be required, including domestic systems.

The system has been designed to deliver a more natural voice control syntax approach and does deliver a more natural feeling operation than currently possible with Amazon Alexa. Phrases like ‘turn the lights on’ or ‘make it darker’ are possible.

Also impressive is the seven – yes seven – languages it already speaks including English, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic, Korean and German.

The ‘wake’ word is also fully customisable, so it could be the name of a person, a hotel anything that suits the environment the system is installed in.

Users’ requests are sent to the Watson cloud, which then uses AMX technology to deliver the required response controlling lights, temperature, shades, TV and music.

The system can also provide hospitality guests with an in-room concierge to ask general questions, or even site-specific questions which are customised by the install team or on-site technicians.

Harman tells CIE that this initial roll out is just the start; the technology has also been integrated into a soundbar and could be placed in a large range of products as all that is required is the IMB Watson chip and an AKG microphone.

The system as demonstrated at ISE within the alarm clock and soundbar will be available by the middle of this year.

Other manufacturers are surely contemplating and may even be some way down the road to integrating voice control directly into their own products, but for now, it seems that Harman is ahead.

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