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Harman Joins WiSA: Is the Connected Car Company Plotting Connected Home Domination?

by October 16, 2017
Harman + Wisa

Harman + Wisa

Harman International, the audio giant that was recently acquired by Samsung, has just joined the Wireless Speaker and Audio Association. WiSA is an association of audio technology companies that are building wireless audio standards to help audio products seamlessly connect with each other. WiSA takes the pain out of compatibility with its technologies that specialize in high-resolution, multi-channel sound. WiSA’s goal is to become the de-facto universal standard in wireless home audio. Now, with Harman on board, this realization is one big step closer.

Access to WiSA technology gives Harman and its many co-brands, such as JBL, Infinity, Lexicon and Mark Levinson a guarantee of wireless audio interoperability with an array of different products by other manufacturers.

“With the growing abundance of multi-channel audio systems in the home, we have the opportunity to dramatically improve the level of entertainment through the creation of powerful home theatre experiences with the added benefit of wireless audio,” said Lou Schreurs, Vice President and General Manager of BU Connected Home at HARMAN. “Joining WiSA is an important step and we are excited to work as partners to make the wireless audio environment more convenient and desirable to consumers than ever before.”

Using WiSA’s technology frees consumer electronics manufacturers from having to build cross-compatibility with a messy list of standards and platforms and just lets them build the next generation of products. The net effect transforms your home into a wireless audio and home theater ecosystem. Besides being able to build new wireless home theater speaker systems, Harman marrying into the WiSA family may enable it to push further into connected home technology. This is familiar territory for Harman as it’s already a leader in the connected car. The company sets the standard in in-car infotainment, telematics and connected safety - slick new buzzwords, but they’re important to auto manufacturers in the 21st century.

But what about the 21st century connected home?

Microsoft was an early pioneer to the Smart home market, and it never really took off. Consumer demand for talking refrigerators remains lukewarm at best. But the connected home is building momentum in other forms. Consumers today just can’t seem to get enough of those talking speakers. Google Home, Apple HomePod and Amazon Echo have established great demand and it's quickly become a competitive space. But now Microsoft has lent its AI-driven female voice, Cortana, to the latest in-home virtual assistant speaker called Invoke, by Harman.

Yes, the announcement of joining WiSA comes fresh off the heels of Harman’s latest announcement providing details about its partnership with Microsoft to make Invoke, what will probably be the best sounding and best looking virtual assistant speaker of them all.

A talking tabletop speaker complete with voice recognition, even with 360-degree acoustic dispersion may not be what WiSA had in mind when setting out to build the wireless audio standards of the future. But there is no doubting that someone at Harman sees the connected home as the bridge between fully wireless, multi-room home audio systems and a voice activated virtual assistant. But instead of just one speaker, WiSA can grant the ability to turn your whole house into a virtual assistant. And with Windows 10 you can already control smart home devices.

Yes, the voice activated future of the home will make you the captain of your leisurely evenings. What could be better than the power to give commands to your Home just like Captain Jean-Luc aboard your own household Enterprise. We say "make it so #1".

“Home, play Frozen, kid’s room. Home, now Play, Marvin Gaye mix, master bedroom.” A connected home future looks sweet indeed.

About the author:
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Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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