Microsoft is working to bring Cortana to Internet of Things devices, including fridges, thermostats, and toasters. The company is planning to bring the assistant to connected devices with the Windows 10 Creators Update, which will be available in March 2017.
The software maker revealed its plans during a presentation (spotted by ZDNet) at its WinHEC conference in China, where the company also unveiled the requirements for manufacturers to build IoT devices with access to Cortana.
Perhaps the most important requirement, unlike Google Home and Amazon Echo, Microsoft will be requiring device makers to build devices that make use of Cortana with a display for a more immersive experience.
During its presentation, the company used fridges, thermostats, and toasters as examples of Windows 10 IoT devices that we will be seeing in the coming years.
In addition, Microsoft is pushing “wake on voice” and “far-field voice” features that will be part of the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Wake on voice is a new feature that allows Cortana to quickly turn on a computer from full-power off state on hardware supporting “Modern Standby” power-management (similar to Xbox One).
Far-field voice is another feature that will let you interact with Cortana in a room with ambient noise at far distance up to 13 feet.
While we’re months away from Microsoft releasing its next major update, the company is already testing some of these new improvements. For example, recent preview builds of Windows 10 include a full-screen mode to use Cortana for a more immersive experience using voice command at far distances.
Currently the company isn’t planning to build specific hardware to access Cortana, but with features like “wake on voice” and “far-field voice” will stop third-parties from trying build-Amazon Echo like devices.
Case in point is Harman Kardon, who is working on a device to bring Cortana to a speaker that may come to market sometime next year.
In a video teaser, the company shows off a speaker that looks very similar to the Amazon Echo dot, but it features a circular screen that lights up with Cortana animation.