Microsoft is preparing for the future with announcements this week pertaining to a new chatbot, more details about Project Springfield, and some revelations about Cortana.
Cortana is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant currently available on Windows desktop and mobile devices as well as Windows Holographic and Xbox. In a WinHEC presentation by Carla Forester, a principal program manager lead at Microsoft, it was revealed that Cortana will be moving toward Windows 10 IoT core devices and displays with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update. Windows 10 IoT aims to provide smarter devices and solutions via predictive maintenance, asset tracking, and remote monitoring.
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With Cortana available for Windows 10, IoT developers will be able to build devices with features such as voice commands and hands-free capabilities. For developers to implement Cortana in their IoT devices, they must provide a display, follow Microsoft Speech Platform specifications, have Internet connectivity, and have a Microsoft sign-in.
The company also recently announced Cortana is opening up to developers through a skills kit and SDK. The SDK is currently in private preview, and is designed to make Cortana available to all OEMs and ODMs. The skills kit allows developers to leverage bots and publish them to Cortana.
Microsoft also just introduced its next evolution of Zo, the brains behind the company’s chatbots. Zo is an artificial intelligence solution that learns from human interactions, responds based on emotions, and provides its own viewpoint on topics.
“We’re really moving from a world where we have to understand computers to a world where they will understand us and our intent, from machine-centric to human-centric, from perceptive to cognitive and from rational to emotional,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group.
Developers can also start creating their own smart bots with the recently announced QnA Maker, an API designed to train AI to respond to questions in a conversational way. They can also use Bing location control.
Lastly, Microsoft gave an inside look at Project Springfield: a cloud service designed to perform fuzz testing and find vulnerabilities in code. Springfield was built entirely in F# in order to speed up development and reduce time to market.
“Some specific benefits of using F# we saw included scripting capabilities and interactive REPL to quickly prototype working code, algebraic data types, immutability by default, pattern matching, higher-order functions, a powerful asynchronous programming model, and type providers,” wrote William Blum, a principal software engineering manager on the Springfield team at Microsoft Research, in a blog post.
Microsoft first previewed Springfield back in September. Going forward, the company is considering porting its back end to .NET core and extending Springfield’s capabilities.