Until recently, Microsoft’s voice assistant Cortana has been limited to functions on your computer.
The main rivals in the voice assistant arena can do a lot more than that, especially in your home office. Alexa can order supplies. Google can give you travel information.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) may be trying to catch up though. A new Connected Home feature for Cortana certainly adds to the functionality of Microsoft’s voice assistant in the home office.
But until more devices are developed to pair with Cortana and Connected Home, the way you can use it as a true voice assistant is rather limited. There’s no yelling into thin air for Alexa with Cortana just yet.
Instead, Connected Home works on Windows 10 computers. You have to search for it via the Start menu on the computer to access these features. Cortana then asks you to pair the Connected Home feature to any smart devices you might have … at least the ones it currently pairs with right now.
There are five brands of smart home products currently paired with Cortana Connected Home. While this voice assistant does pale in comparison with the competition right now, it certainly could play a role in your smart home office.
The brands it pairs with are Wink, Insteon, SmartThings, Nest and Hue.
If you do utilize this service — remember, you have to enable Cortana through Windows 10 — you’ll be able to adjust the thermostat, control the lights, and other smart home features that can help provide security and control energy costs.
“The average North American home has about 80 electrical and lighting nodes — largely wall switches and outlets — which is the focus on our Insteon technology. In the foreseeable future, the majority of these nodes will be ‘smart’ and internet addressable,” said Rob Lilleness, Insteon CEO, in a company press release. “Microsoft’s entry is further testament to the momentum in the market and a key technology building block to delivering on the promise of a smart home.”
Users can connect Cortana Connected Home through the Insteon Hub, for example, to control smart home functions for their home office.