Cortana will soon be able to control your home

Cortana is a key part of Microsoft's strategy for making Windows the most personal operating system on the planet. With its debut on Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana has quickly added new features since it was announced and is being updated twice a month.

One of the best aspects of Cortana is that third-parties can link into the digital assistant to create unique experiences for Windows Phone users. One of the first developers to jump on the Cortana train is Insteon, the makers of home-automation products.

Insteon makes products that allow you to turn ordinary light bulbs, outlets and switches into connected devices. By giving these 'dumb' products connectivity, it turns them into 'smart' devices that can then be controlled by a smartphone. Coming later this year, Insteon will release an updated app that will allow Cortana to control your home.

Some of the ways you can use Cortana to control these devices is stated below:

  • Ask Cortana to dim the lights for movie time based on specially created scenes.
  • Instruct the thermostat to reduce the temperature at 6 p.m. to ensure that the house is cool upon returning home from work; Cortana will begin to learn your habits and automatically ask if you would like to turn the A/C on.
  • Monitor the house when on vacation or a business trip by asking Cortana to check that all of the doors and windows are closed and locked.

While this will be one of the first third-parties to use Cortana to control their app, we fully expect more developers to adopt the digital assistant as well. As Microsoft works to refine Cortana and bring it to other versions of Windows, if your app doesn't integrate with the assistant, it will be at a disadvantage if others on the market adopt the capabilities.

Source: Insteon

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gregalto said,
I had no idea this was coming, so good to see it here.

Cortana updates me on this sort of stuff, so I guess I'm a bit jaded. It's actually rare that I read something on Neowin first anymore :)

MikeChipshop said,

Only thing i remember seeing on here was a video from waaaaay back (pretty sure it was pre-XP) showing MS's vision of home integration.

It was a recent one. But I'm having trouble finding it. I'll keep looking. :)

OK. My mistake. It was an EasyDom video, not Insteon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU7W4fDOV4A

Edited by Forjo, Jul 21 2014, 12:37pm :

I really don't get this euphoria over a voice activated device. My partner has an iphone for instance and has never used that siri thing. I've never heard anyone talk up voice activated devices. I just see it as a gimmick rather like those curved TV's and phones.

I can definitely see this helping people with disabilities, but for the mass user, it won't make a difference. You do see people talking hands free on their phones (using headphones) but how many people do you see actually do this compared to actually just holding their device, even though the tech has been out there for so long? I see this as another one of those techs that in theory would help people, but yeah, it won't become big, certainly not for me anyway.

Well I can see it working alright in every Case where a remote control is already in place. That is basically everything electric.. light.. curtains ... tv... pc. Also it would help for example in the Kitchen or imagine the door is ringing and you tell cortana to put the entrance cam on the screen closest to the screen you are looking at right now

Zlain said,
I really don't get this euphoria over a voice activated device. My partner has an iphone for instance and has never used that siri thing. I've never heard anyone talk up voice activated devices. I just see it as a gimmick rather like those curved TV's and phones.

I can definitely see this helping people with disabilities, but for the mass user, it won't make a difference. You do see people talking hands free on their phones (using headphones) but how many people do you see actually do this compared to actually just holding their device, even though the tech has been out there for so long? I see this as another one of those techs that in theory would help people, but yeah, it won't become big, certainly not for me anyway.

Cortana does more then Siri. It lets you know of traffic on your way home from work starting at a Half hour before you leave. It will even remind you of plane flights it finds in your email. All without you having to ask her.

Zlain said,
I really don't get this euphoria over a voice activated device. My partner has an iphone for instance and has never used that siri thing. I've never heard anyone talk up voice activated devices. I just see it as a gimmick rather like those curved TV's and phones.

I can definitely see this helping people with disabilities, but for the mass user, it won't make a difference. You do see people talking hands free on their phones (using headphones) but how many people do you see actually do this compared to actually just holding their device, even though the tech has been out there for so long? I see this as another one of those techs that in theory would help people, but yeah, it won't become big, certainly not for me anyway.

I think that most iOS users aren't that bothered with Siri simply because unlike Google Now and Cortana it hasn't evolved since its first release. Not only that but Google Now and Cortana have more features that actually make them useful e.g. the ability to bring information to you as opposed to having to search for it via adding your interests.

-adrian- said,
Unfortunately google is still miles ahead of cortana when it comes to "bringing information to you"

I'm not going to disagree but that's why Cortana still has the beta tag, because it isn't a finished product yet ;)

Melfster said,
I know a lot people who don't use Google Now because it so useless. It gets the wrong information that you want.

GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out applies here ;)

Melfster said,
A lot people don't like Google now and think useless. If your concerned about privacy you stay hell away from Google now.

Being concerned about privacy I stay away from Google, period ;)

Cortana *never* requires the use of speech. It's a natural language processing system, the voice recognition is just a layer on top of that. You can always input text and it'll work the same way, more consistently even, since there's zero voice recognition errors that way.

If you can't see why being able to enter a command like "Remind me to get milk when I go to the store", "Turn the AC off at 9pm", or "Play songname", etc, isn't a much better way to do things than going into an app and navigating through multiple menus, then I dunno what to say to convince you. But it's that and not the speech per se that's important and exciting.

I mean you've raised interesting points. But then, from your example, Cortana just sounds like an alert for a list that you create. I am pretty sure most people would just make a list on paper/ on their phones and there must be some apps out there which gives notifications. So you still haven't provided any usage where Cortana actually significantly improves productivity.

majortom1981 said,

Cortana does more then Siri. It lets you know of traffic on your way home from work starting at a Half hour before you leave. It will even remind you of plane flights it finds in your email. All without you having to ask her.

Yes but why wouldn't you use a dedicated GPS service for that instead?

Zlain said,
I mean you've raised interesting points. But then, from your example, Cortana just sounds like an alert for a list that you create. I am pretty sure most people would just make a list on paper/ on their phones and there must be some apps out there which gives notifications. So you still haven't provided any usage where Cortana actually significantly improves productivity.

Yes but why wouldn't you use a dedicated GPS service for that instead?

Slain, yes they are alerts, however, they are the type of alerts that you wanted to be alerted with. You can customized Cortana to be alert you or make suggestions on things you like - even make a joke. Cortana will even ask if a certain location is your work place or not since it can detect where the phone is stationed during the day - thus creating a traffic report for you every day. Technically, Cortana is using GPS without you actually using it.

Granted, there are other things that Cortana does that are similar to Google Now and Siri, and that's just going to be there no matter way. However, MS is making sure that their PA will differentiate by being more personal to your needs.

Have you actually used Cortana? From your response it doesn't seem like you have. ;)

RommelS said,

Slain, yes they are alerts, however, they are the type of alerts that you wanted to be alerted with. You can customized Cortana to be alert you or make suggestions on things you like - even make a joke. Cortana will even ask if a certain location is your work place or not since it can detect where the phone is stationed during the day - thus creating a traffic report for you every day. Technically, Cortana is using GPS without you actually using it.

Granted, there are other things that Cortana does that are similar to Google Now and Siri, and that's just going to be there no matter way. However, MS is making sure that their PA will differentiate by being more personal to your needs.

Have you actually used Cortana? From your response it doesn't seem like you have. ;)

I don't mind it has features similar to the other two. My comments are quite broad and directed about the general technology rather than Cortana in particular. I don't see how the alerts system are any different to any other apps out there (I'm guessing here). I can understand that this appears to be a technology that will really help people but I just can't see it.

As background information I haven't used Cortana. I was close to buying a windows phone but heard bad reports regarding battery life on a particular model I wanted. I ended up getting a moto g. I never use Google Now. To me its just an annoying thing that gets in the way (and because its set to the middle click button, its easy to misclick it if you don't need it). Maybe I am getting old fashioned a little. But I just don't see this as any sort of innovation whatsoever, just a gimmick that connects several services - which the user may not even want or need. I quite like the idea of having disconnected services - I don't want to ever rely on one thing to get me going. So tech like this just doesn't appeal to me.

neo158 said,

Being concerned about privacy I stay away from Google, period ;)

Greetings from China - now a 100% a Google-free country. It's a sad day when people living in China have more privacy than people living in the USA.

" if your app doesn't integrate with the assistant, it will be at a disadvantage if others on the market adopt the capabilities. "

Very good point.

To me the most intriguing thing when Windows Phone 7 came out was the Live Tile capability. But when the app store opened, there were a lot of apps that didn't take advantage of the Live Tile capability. Those apps got ignored for apps that did have Live Tiles capability. Developers recognized this and now nearly every app has Live Tile capability.

Cortana will be the same. People will download the apps that take advantage of Cortana and the others will be left behind.

LOL.. I need to finish my project. I was already designing this product!

Although, I see they have missed a few things I have planned...

Mine uses Z-wave and will replace your home security panels.

Good. I'm a Z-wave guy, myself. OpenZWave sure seems to be a bitch to use, though. I hope one of these days Zensys will open up their SDK.

I ended up just rewriting it. Using open zwave as a helper.

I agree that it is a bitch to use.

I also considered paying for the SDK. But, it is a bit high for my hobby.

For Cortana to "control your home", you have to have the home automation hardware already. And since that's been around for years but has NOT taken off in any significant numbers...then IMO there's really no news here.

I think its not Cortana that control the home. Its us controling the home, via Cortana. We want a true assistant that know and can control the home without our command.
This is for you NSA

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