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Microsoft Cortana may be headed to your car


Microsoft has developed a prototype of a connected car that recognizes commands from the Cortana voice assistant, an executive with the Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group reportedly said at the company’s TechDays conference . Based on the prototype, Cortana would display itself on the windshield of the car, helping drivers see nearby locations or perform such tasks as making restaurant reservations, said Samuel Shen, according to the Taipei Times.

Microsoft has already dabbled in the connected car arena, providing in-car technology to such automakers as Ford, BMW, and Fiat. But the company faces competition from Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, both of which offer navigation, traffic information, music playback, phone calls, text messaging and other in-car features. At its 2014 Build conference, Microsoft announced a “Windows in the Car” initiative that would offer apps for maps, radio, music and traffic updates. But the company was mum on how you’d actually control your in-car system. Cortana may be the answer.

Microsoft has been expanding the reach of its voice assistant. Initially a fixture just on Windows Phone devices, Cortana is now a key part of Windows 10 for PCs and tablets where it can answer your questions, provide you with information and alert you to upcoming appointments. With connected car technology becoming more prevalent, the automobile seems like the next logical step for Cortana.

Apple uses Siri for its CarPlay system, while Google uses Google Now, both of which allow drivers to issue voice commands and receive responses, whether they’re trying to navigate the road, listen to music or send an email or text message.

Cortana isn’t ready to pop into your car just yet. The technology remains in the prototype stage. Now Microsoft is aiming to work with Taiwanese partners in an effort to develop connected cars that can respond to your voice commands. But the cost of creating the technology seems to be a limiting factor.

“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 at the TechDays conference.

Shen didn’t reveal the names of any specific partners, according to the Taipei Times. And no timetable or deadline was announced. So although Microsoft’s Cortana in-car technology sounds promising, it may take a while before it drives its way to the average car owner, especially since officially Microsoft had nothing to say about the project.

“We will always look at ways to bring high-value experiences, like Cortana, to consumers in a variety of ways,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. “We have nothing to announce at this time.”

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