Microsoft Working on New Siri Competitor Inspired by Halo's Cortana AI Character


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Jan 5, 2011

Halo fans will already be intimately familiar with Microsoft's newest software tech innovation which will be released next year. Microsoft plans to launch their own Siri-like voice activated virtual assistant, and it will be called "Cortana." For those uninitiated with Halo, Cortana was the AI personality which helped Master Chief on his adventures fighting hordes of alien invaders. Microsoft wants to model their new voice activated search app on this personality.

It will certainly be tough for Microsoft to compete in this arena. Both Apple and Google have a big jump on Microsoft with Siri and Google Now respectively. Still, Microsoft plans to differentiate their product by building it around an adaptable machine-learning technology they are developing. In essence, they are attempting to actually build Cortana in some form. Here's a quote from ZDNet with more of the details,

Cortana, Microsoft's assistant technology, likewise will be able to learn and adapt, relying on machine-learning technology and the "Satori" knowledge repository powering Bing.

Cortana will be more than just an app that lets users interact with their phones more naturally using voice commands. Cortana is core to the makeover of the entire "shell" -- the core services and experience -- of the future versions of Windows Phone, Windows and the Xbox One operating systems, from what I've heard from my contacts.

In Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's strategy memo from July about Microsoft's reorg, there were hints about Cortana. Ballmer mentioned that Microsoft will be working, going forward, on "a family of devices powered by a service-enabled shell."

That "shell" is more than just the Metro/Modern/tiled interface. Ballmer continued:

"Our UI will be deeply personalized, based on the advanced, almost magical, intelligence in our cloud that learns more and more over time about people and the world. Our shell will natively support all of our essential services, and will be great at responding seamlessly to what people ask for, and even anticipating what they need before they ask for it."

The coming shell won't simply surface information stored on users' phones, PCs and consoles like a search engine can do today. It also will "broker information among our services to bring them together on our devices in ways that will enable richer and deeper app experiences," Ballmer said in his memo. (That "brokering" is handled by Bing's Satori, which intelligently interconnects entities, i.e., information about people, places and things.)

It's interesting to see how things are evolving in the tech world. I can almost imagine a day in the future when Google Now, Siri and Cortana each evolve into a real Artificial Intelligence. This leaves the question, "Will they decide to eradicate humanity, or will they simply decide to go shopping together?"

Source: ZDNet