Microsoft Cortana (first demonstrated at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference in 2014) is an intelligent personal assistant (PA) developed by the company for Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft Band, and coming to Windows 10, iOS and Android.
It is named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft’s Halo video game series, with Jen Taylor, the character’s voice actress, returning to voice the PA in its American incarnation.
“Cortana may be asked to find the item you worked on at Starbucks or find the presentation you showed your colleague last week or find some pictures on Dropbox,” explained Nancy Owano, writing for Phys.org.
Coupled with Lenovo’s REACHit app that lets the user connect and search multiple file storage locations in one place, the new-and-improved hybrid system will allow one to look for digital content using any available snippets of related information, opening up an entirely new level of contextual search and giving users the most comprehensive, seamless and natural way to find their personal digital content.
The search is based on whatever the user can remember about the item in question – what type of file it is, when (and by whom) was it sent, where was it last opened, etc. – by typing or voicing such natural-sounding commands as, e.g., “find the picture I worked on at Starbucks last week”.
Rather than searching through endless folders, logging into a number of cloud accounts (e.g., Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive), ruffling through different emails and email attachments, the user will be able to access his or her data almost instantly – to put it simply, REACHit gives Cortana a larger inventory of data to search through.
“We are living in a world where technology has made it easy to amass unprecedented amounts of personal digital content,” Mark Cohen, Vice President, Ecosystem and Cloud Services at Lenovo. “So much information that it can be extremely difficult to remember where it is stored. What you need is an assistant – a friend – who is always at the ready to help. That is where Cortana and REACHit comes in, enabling people to find their personal content in an incredibly natural way – by asking a friend for help.”
Peter Han, Vice President, Worldwide OEM Marketing at Microsoft said that “Microsoft and Lenovo teams held creative design sessions, advanced hardware discussions, even late night coding marathons to deliver Cortana and REACHit.”
A beta version of Cortana and REACHit will be free – yet exclusive – to users of Lenovo devices running on Windows 10, which is scheduled to launch later this summer. To get the beta, sign up here.
Public access will begin in the fall.