Microsoft’s Cortana May Become a Part of Your Smart Home

by Christopher Jones | Dec. 16, 2016

Earlier this month, details of Microsoft’s "Home Hub," a Windows 10 feature, were detailed by various news outlets as a possible move by Microsoft to get its Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution in consumers' homes. If this update will indeed let Cortana be a part of the smart home, Microsoft will join Amazon, Google, and Apple who all offer voice-controlled, virtual assistants for the smart home. As a potential competitor to Amazon, Google, and Apple in the smart home market, it raises the question: What does Microsoft have to offer that the others do not?

A major differentiator of the Home Hub solution is that it will not be a dedicated device, but will instead be software that works across any Windows 10-compatible device with a working display. This is a major competitive advantage because it opens up the opportunity for the Home Hub and Cortana solution to reach a large group of users who already own and use devices with a Windows10 operating system. Furthermore, Microsoft has created a solution for individuals who are not yet a part of the Windows 10 ecosystem. Microsoft has teamed up with Harman Kardon to create its own Echo or Google Home-like device to allow home control via a premium speaker. Other features that are said to be a part of the Home Hub update include:

  • Dedicated Connected Home app: This app will enable easy connection and use of smart home devices in your home. It will also allow on/off functions, device configuration, device grouping into individual rooms, and more. The Connected Home app will work with smart devices that support the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and Open Translators to Things (Open T2T) standards, which is the majority of smart devices.
  • Cortana is listening: Cortana will be available for commands on the welcome screen of any Windows 10 device. The voice control works from distances of about 13 feet, which should be more than enough range to speak with any Home Hub compatible device.
  • Cortana works with multiple users: Microsoft’s Home Hub allows for multiple accounts to be activated and accessible on the Home Hub platform. That means any registered user in the home can access their personal account as well as a “family account,” which shares things like home automation devices, calendar events, missed calls, notifications, and more.

This is an interesting play by Microsoft and an opportunity to become a player in the smart home market. No dates have been issued yet for the release of the Home Hub update. Only time will tell if Microsoft hit the jackpot with its software focused approach to the connected home.

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