Microsoft's Cortana Learns to Drive
The tech giant is reportedly working with Taiwanese businesses to develop developing connected cars that recognize and respond to voice commands.
In fact, Redmond has already developed a prototype vehicle using the virtual Cortana service, Samuel Shen, chief operating officer at the Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group, told the Taipei Times.
This isn't the company's first attempt at connected cars, though. Microsoft provided the software that underpins Ford's Sync system, and at last year's Build conference, it debuted the "Windows in the Car" concept.
As PCMag's Doug Newcomb explained at the time, "what's notable about Windows in the Car is that it shifts Microsoft's strategy from a purely embedded approach to leveraging portable devices to bring content into the car—something that others, including Ford, have been doing for years now."
Microsoft, however, didn't announce a launch date or any details on how the system will operate using a car's existing controls, so Cortana might the answer. Microsoft declined to comment.
According to Shen, the Cortana-connected prototype turns the car's windshield into a navigation system, showing nearby locations, and even helping to make restaurant reservations.
"We have not launched similar products due to the high cost, but we hope to have further discussions with Taiwanese partners to jointly explore future possibilities," Shen said during a keynote speech at this week's TechDays Taiwan developer conference.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.
Cortana also made her debut at Build 2014, and uses a natural language interface to perform tasks on the Windows mobile and desktop operating systems.
Like Siri and Google Now, however, it appears that Cortana is still experiencing growing pains—as Microsoft chief Satya Nadella learned during a recent Dreamforce 2015 interview with ExpovistaTV.
"Show me my most at-risk opportunities," the CEO asked Cortana during this week's Salesforce.com event. Instead, Cortana offered to "Show me to buy milk at this opportunity," eliciting laughter and sporadic applause from the audience.
"Let's try it again," he said, this time enunciating just a bit more. "OK, starting Reminders," Cortana said, before Nadella quickly closed the window.
"One last time," he offered, again pronouncing each word, before Cortana's third misplaced attempt. "No, this is not gonna work. Sorry about that," he said with a laugh.
Still, Cortana is good for something: The Windows Team on Wednesdayannounced new Microsoft Edge browser capabilities with Cortana. The virtual assistant lets users look up a word or phrase without leaving a Web page, and provides additional restaurant information and online coupons.