Look out! Cortana coming to cars, on windshields even

When you speak about personal assistants and cars, you will most likely think of Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now. But there is a third player in that field and it will be taking over not your dashboard but your windshield. At the company's Taiwan TechDays, Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research COO Samuel Shen revealed that it has developed a prototype connected car, one that of course integrates Cortana. One other key difference: it projects the virtual assistant unto windshields to provide immediate visual feedback without completely distracting drivers.

While Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto has had a head start, they have mostly focused on integrating their mobile technologies into more conventional in-vehicle infotainment systems, which usually takes the form of a touch-enabled tablet, either embedded or detachable, on the dashboard.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has somewhat been lagging behind, at least as far as public appearances are concerned. It was only at the annual BUILD conference last year that it revealed its "Windows in Car" idea. Back then, the concept was simple and nothing extraordinary. A more car-friendly Windows Phone's interface could be mirrored on a conventional touch-friendly display and that was pretty much it.

This time, Microsoft is showing more ambition, and perhaps more sense. Traditional infotainment systems that offer touch-only controls still have a risk of distraction. Considering the top three virtual assistants can all be voice-controlled, it makes better sense to use that instead. But Microsoft is going the extra mile. In addition to distraction-free voice commands, its concept also involves projecting information on the dashboard, at the driver's eye level no less. This means that drivers won't have to glance down at dashboard displays and can continue looking forward, minimizing the amount of time their eyes are on the road.

As grand as that may sound, it is, after all, still just a concept. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to getting Cortana into cars. Most car makers have already chosen sides, or both sides sometimes, promising CarPlay and/or Android Auto in future models. Microsoft might have a harder time finding vacancy there if it doesn't act quickly.

VIA: The Verge

SOURCE: Taipei Times