French startup Whyd develops wireless home speaker with voice control

Never heard of Whyd? It started out as a social network for music lovers, and has now turned its hand to developing hardware. The French firm is hoping that its new speaker will become a conversation piece, in more ways than one. Specifically, the company's 360 degree, omnidirectional speaker is voice operated, meaning that you can command it to select a specific track, artist, playlist, or radio station.

However, if you're not feeling particularly loquacious, you can use the touchpad controller on top of the speaker.

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It can connect to streaming services such as Apple Music, Deezer, Spotify and Tidal (which we hope will be playing the What Hi-Fi? playlist) and has Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity. The Whyd speaker is also compatible with Google Cast and AirPlay.

What distinguishes this speaker from other voice-operated devices like the Amazon Echo, according to Whyd co-founder Jie Meng-Gerard, is that rivals such as the Echo "don't focus on sound quality". Whyd has given its speaker four full-range drivers, and a dedicated subwoofer, for improved performance.

It measures 30cm x 20cm and weighs 4kg, and can be pre-ordered from Whyd's website for $299 in a variety of colours.