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Home / Technology / Cortana Gets the Power of Seeing in Microsoft's Future Vision of Conference Rooms

Cortana Gets the Power of Seeing in Microsoft's Future Vision of Conference Rooms



Cortana can see you. Could be. A mysterious cone-shaped device featured in a demo on Monday at the Microsoft build event in Seattle indicated a leap in the company's digital assistant's ability to see and identify people

] In the reckless war between Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google's assistant, this is a feature we have not yet seen from the competition. What we do not know is what this prototype is and whether it will ever come out.

The official, overshadowed Microsoft demonstration showed us the conference room of the future. Microsoft integrated Cortana, the Surface Hub, and the translation and transcription capabilities of Skype together with PowerBI and Microsoft Teams into a single work environment.

In a presentation led by Raanah Amjadi, a marketing manager for Microsoft Teams, Microsoft demonstrated how Cortana made planning the conference room easier. He was asked to arrange a meeting with the "Smart Building Team" Problems with a Hypothetical Product

The prototype of the device was similar to the Harman / Kardon Invoke shown in earlier demos. However, according to Amjadi, this device could both see and hear. "It picks up audio and video that you can combine with AI services and Microsoft 365 to help with important tasks," said Amjadi, "such as identification, voice transcription, and even real-time translation."

  Build Demo Transcrpt and Notes Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft's cognitive services recorded the conversation and transcribed it, taking notes.

In the demo, the device identified each person and greeted them by their first name. When the leader, Amjadi, entered, the unit also asked her if she wanted to start the meeting. When Amjadi did so, a nearby Surface Hub started transcribing the conversation and making separate notes on important tasks. (Apparently, one of the triggering words was "follow-up," which identifies Cortana's existing ability to track emails and identify commitments or promises you make to others.)

At the top, a panoramic window showed all participants, apparently from the perspective of the prototype device. Microsoft's AI services also provided a translation of the meeting for a colleague in China.

  Build demo translation Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft even provided more than one translation at a time.

Software, Services Connect Employees

Microsoft's team app was a type of back-channel communication between attendees that provided links to shared services such as GitHub or Trello, as well as allowing follow-ups by team members wanted to. In one example, Cortana volunteered to offer her services voluntarily in order to find a suitable meeting time among the participants. Similarly, teams were smart enough to know what "Q2 revenue forecast" participants wanted by using a feature of Microsoft Delve to uncover relevant documents.

  Creating demo teams Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft appears to be seeing teams As additional services, participants run in the background of a meeting.

Microsoft introduced features in Word that allow users to send "@" messages as a text message to other team members without having to open Outlook or a chat application. These messages even included apps like a message to the Microsoft To-Do app. In the latter case, Cortana re-entered and disclosed information the employee had previously used.

  build demo ai Mark Hachman / IDG

With teams, users can send messages to other team members in apps like Word, and Cortana can intervene and help.

Microsoft also showed a short demo of Your Phone, a prototype app where users can manage their phones directly from their PC. (Again, this feature is already built into Windows, but somewhat hidden in the action menu notifications.) Your phone will soon be launched on Insiders, Microsoft said.) Finally, the team "solved" the problem by visualizing the data in various ways PowerBI and Research the data with the HoloLens

A second Cortana device?

At the time of printing, the Microsoft officials had no further comment when Amjadi said on stage. But it's also true that Microsoft had high hopes of driving Cortana past Invoke into a world of cars and other connected devices. That was at least the original vision that Microsoft propagated in late 2016.

  Call for Primary Version Harman Kardon

The Harman / Kardon Invoke was the first and only consumer device powered by Cortana. 19659009] Since then, Cortana has appeared in the Invoke and GLASS Smart Thermostat from Johnson Controls – and that's it. Amazon is now encouraging its use of Alexa Assistant in almost everything – including Windows PCs, which Microsoft has agreed to partner with.

So far, however, Alexa, Cortana and Apple's Siri are voice-controlled devices. Amazon and Apple have not shown any machine vision capabilities, although Amazon has demonstrated an Alexa-powered device with a screen. At the Microsoft build keynote on Monday, Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure, the fourth generation of the Kinect sensor that other hardware manufacturers can use to build their own hardware that can "see".

Of course, this hardware would probably use the services of Microsoft. Would a smart device you see look attractive or simply scary to consumers? At home, consumers fear that Microsoft might see them in underwear or monitor them at home.

But Microsoft has turned its back on the consumer market, favoring companies and their larger, fixed budgets. A number of business devices powered by a sighted Cortana wizard make sense – even if it's still a bit scary.


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