While Cortana will be in beta once Windows Phone 8.1 sees commercial release, Microsoft is already encouraging developers to build applications to integrate with the natural language interface of Cortana. One developer, Matt Cavanagh, from South Africa, has been busy integrating Cortana with home automation tasks.
The fact that Cortana is “only” turning on or off a lamp is not the really cool part. The really cool part is how Cortana is able to execute the task through a non-traditional command, “Cortana, it’s a bit too dim in here.” Cortana then turns on the desk lamp. When Matt changes his mind, “Cortana, it’s a bit too bright in here,” Cortana snaps the light off.
The Windows Phone is connected via Bluetooth to a Netduino, which is an open-source electronics prototyping platform that operates on the .NET Micro Framework. With this basic framework, Matt is already able to program these tasks with Cortana.
Given that, full featured, advanced home-automation integration is not far behind. Expect to see natural language integration to control the lights, thermostat, door locks, and more. Cortana already has the scale to execute location based tasks. So, if we forget to turn something off when we leave the house, Cortana will be able to do that for us.
Once refrigerators see more automation, and can scan things inside like milk and cheese, we will be able to ask Cortana if we need to go to the store rather than asking to remind us. The step beyond that will be Cortana proactively telling us if our food is going bad before we get home in the first place.
What do you hope Cortana will be able to do for you?