Engadget takes a deep look at Cortana – Overseas voices to be different

| June 4, 2014 | 4 Replies

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Brad Molen from Engadget takes an in depth look at Cortana, Microsoft’s Voice Assistant for Windows Phone that seeks to be almost human.

Microsoft found that people are more likely to interact with something if it feels more human (also if it can actually do what you expect it to do). To personify something like a digital voice assistant gives users a sense of familiarity. Isn’t it much better that Cortana is called Cortana with a name and personality rather than what, TellMe? Bing? That’s kinda why I miss clippy and the little dog. Whilst they were just help blobs of info, they became more seemingly sentient beings that I could related to.

Engadget mentions the chitchat responses – MS’s witty comebacks embedded into Cortana. They’re all predetermined, i.e. non-AI synthesised phrases but canned responses for prepared questions aren’t they? I guess the more of these Microsoft bakes in, the more the user can enjoy having these random small talk (And the more it can recognise the permutations in the way the same question can be asked in different ways). That is what MS is going to do and much more. The Cortana team will flesh out more extended back and forth dialogue with more natural expressions and interactions. . Cortana can currently refer back to something recently talked about but in future, her short term and long term memory will improve so she can talk about a topic and come back to it later.

Another interesting point is localisations. As Cortana moves to new locations, she’s going to pick up new voice talent, i.e. perhaps not just Jen Taylor, the actual voice of Halo’s Cortana. Could we still call her Cortana? It’s understandable. Cortana has an American accent. I guess having an international/US assistant isn’t unheard of, but folks might prefer a more local one. I couldn’t imagine having to get Jen Taylor to speak Chinese.

In the US, Cortana will be getting updates bi-monthly with possible exceptions for special events to get in on trending topics like the Olympics. These things get updated server side so users don’t have to refresh the hardware every time a new feature is added (though it does mean more reliance to always being connected – then again, asking about current stuff happening around you would require that).

What else could there be for Cortana? What if she became part of the Xbox voice system? The Windows Searches? Bing given that it’s all mostly server side?

Source: engadget

Cheers Alvester for the tip!


Category: Windows Phone

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