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Microsoft's Cortana interacts with the Internet of Things

by Mark Tyson on 9 May 2014, 14:21

Tags: Windows Phone, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacd7r

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A Toronto based firm specialising in cloud platforms for the Internet of Things has made a video demonstrating the use of Microsoft's recently launched Cortana personal assistant controlling devices around a home/office. NeoWin reminds us that these home automation feats can be achieved, exclusively by Cortana among virtual assistants, due to the Microsoft assistant's extensibility and communication with third party apps.

Onion says that its hardware and software "make it quick, easy and economical to connect anything to the web". The team at Onion have made a video showing how it can utilise Cortana to control both a lamp and a printer at its offices. It's just a case of asking Cortana to make use of these objects in your natural language. The demo shows that Cortana could be very useful beyond the usual calendar, alarm and search queries people often use the likes of Apple's Siri and Google Now to undertake.

Microsoft 'technical evangelist' Sertac Ozercan visited Onion.io to make the video above with Onion 'growth hacker' Steven Wong. In the first section of the video Cortana is asked simply to turn on and off a lamp. Later Cortana is asked to "print eggs and milk" while Mr Wong stands next to Onion's IoT printer. We see the continuous roll printer output 'eggs and milk' – great for a shopping list perhaps…

It would be interesting to know more about what hardware is needed to get the lighting and other devices to work with Cortana. Hopefully more details about this and similar home automation projects will be forthcoming.

We already saw a lights-only Cortana demonstration video last month from South African Windows Phone developer Matt Cavanagh, so the printer control is the only really new thing above. Details of how Mr Cavanagh implemented his home lighting control are published on WP Central. His hardware setup included a Netduino and a Bluetooth module as well as the obvious Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone and electric lamp.



HEXUS Forums :: 12 Comments

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I already have some very advanced technology for turning my lights on and off. Admittedly, it's partly the result of an extensive program of R&D, and a HUGE amount of testing, but I've been using it for, well, ages.

It has been facilitated by other technology parallel that has also improved, but my basic tech I've had for yonks.

What tech? Oh, sorry. I have a V1.0 finger. It's attached to a V1.0 hand, and was developed and tested by a process known as “evolution”. The parallel tech is, of course, the “light switch”. Some of mine have been upgraded from a basic “on/off”, to a sophisticated fully variable albeit analogue process known as “dimmer”. Yet others have, …., wait for it …. timers and even remotes.

The astute among you may have detected a certain underwhelmedness on my part by this IoT demo. My reaction is, so you can do it? Whoop-de-do. Not sure why you want to, though.
As much as I love the idea of a ‘connected’ home, it kind of gets a little extreme when you just use it to ‘turn a light on’ or make a list.

I can understand the idea of using ‘macros’ that turn the lights off/down, close curtains, switch the tv channel to the media player etc or even ones that adjust the heating/cooling but in the time it takes to print off a shopping list, I could write it on paper or if my phone is there I could just make myself a note and save the paper… who doesn't go shopping with their phone.

Actually thinking about it…. can't google now/android already do the ‘list’ thing with ANY printer connected to a pc/wifi/google cloud print. You use voice to ‘write’ the note, then send it to cloud print or similar….
LSG501
….. or if my phone is there I could just make myself a note and save the paper… who doesn't go shopping with their phone.

….
Erm …..

/raises hand.

:D

Mind you, in the smartphone era, mine has an IQ of about 3. But I guess I could stick a v1.0 PostIt note on it. ;)
Saracen
Erm …..

/raises hand.

:D

Mind you, in the smartphone era, mine has an IQ of about 3. But I guess I could stick a v1.0 PostIt note on it. ;)
well we all know you're a special case :p
LSG501
…I can understand the idea of using ‘macros’ that turn the lights off/down, close curtains, switch the tv channel to the media player etc or even ones that adjust the heating/cooling but in the time it takes to print off a shopping list…

I see the utility, but this just had me thinking of the uses Quagmire and Barney Stinson would make of it.

Giggity-giggity!