Reddit user Jarem Archer, has built an impressive appliance using the Cortana virtual assistant. Basically, it’s his spin on what he thinks Microsoft’s version of Alexa or Google Home would be if they were to use the holographic AI sidekick from Halo. And it’s really cool.
The whole thing is powered by a Windows 10 device with 4GB of RAM and a built-in Arduino used for controlling the platform lights. Which, the platform lights make it that much cooler and really bring the sci-fi look of it together. The rest of the device was 3D printed in PLA. He uses an omnidirectional microphone for talking to Cortana and a mini speaker built into Cortana’s pedestal so she can talk back to you. Sass and all, I assume.
The software is in two parts, the first being a Unity 3D app that presents and animates Cortana in three different camera angles which then communicates to the second app. The second app serves as a proxy that parses data going to and from the native Cortana web service. The device also features a real-time face tracking system with the front-facing camera which moves the rendered camera perspective relative to a single viewer’s head. I won’t pretend to know exactly what all that means but all of it coming together produces an awesome piece of tech.
Archer got the animations for Cortana using his wife to record her motions. He used dual Kinects to record each action and applied them to the Cortana model in Unity. Other added animations include screens that Cortana brings up with her hand motions like any classic sci-fi computer.
There is plenty more that goes into this project but I recommend you watch the video below and see this thing in action for yourself. Then head over to Archer’s website and read up on how this project came to life.
If Microsoft wanted to produce a product like this, I would jump at the opportunity to buy one.