Microsoft Expects Cortana Voice Assistant to Get Smarter
Microsoft thinks its Cortana voice assistant tech is poised to do much more than search the Web and tidy up calendars. Someday it may be able to see.Cortana can speak, listen, decipher text queries and get to know users, courtesy of Microsoft's search and machine-learning technologies. According to the software giant's research arm, the company has much bigger plans for Cortana. Drawing parallels from the current state of Cortana to the simplistic, bare-bones experiences provided by early search engines, Microsoft Research Distinguished Engineer Larry Heck believes the "personal-assistant technology that's out there right now is comparable to the early days of search," according to a blog post. And like search, Cortana will evolve to have a profound impact on the tech industry. "Microsoft has intentionally built Cortana to scale out to all the different domains," said Heck, reflecting on the company's "long-term vision" for the tech. Currently, Cortana is strictly a voice- and text-driven affair. During a keynote demo at this year's Build developer conference in San Francisco, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows Phone, showed off Cortana's prowess at handling spoken commands and surfacing important in-context information from data sources like a user's inbox.
Only developers have access to Cortana for the time being, but the company is offering the general public a small taste of the tech. Bing users can configure the search engine to display new "cards" on a home page that reflect their interests, including customized news topics, weather and traffic alerts.