This morning I walked into my office, and as I approached my desk I said "Hey Cortana". My desktop twitched to life and a little tone told me Cortana was listening. "What time does Staples open?" I continued.
After a couple of moments the location and hours of the local Staples location appeared on my screen and Cortana responded "It’s not open now but it opens at 8AM".
We’ve had voice assistant technology in phones for a while (think Zooey Deschanel inexplicably asking Siri if it’s raining) and even, in more obscure apps, on regular computers. But with Windows 10 and Cortana we’re getting closer to the day when we’ll have a voice-activated personal assistant on our desktop (or laptop) computers.
Not only that but a voice-activated personal assistant that works when I’m not even within arm’s reach of my computer. Nifty.
Now I’ve famously pointed out in the past that voice control and dictation on computers is a little overrated. It depends heavily on your work environment. If you work in a cubicle farm or, worse, one of the open floorplans that are all the rage in recent years, I can’t think of a less amenable circumstance for everybody to be talking to their computers. The sheer cacophony of it – not to mention having to repeat yourself constantly because your computer keeps getting confused hearing your neighbor ask for directions to the local Korean BBQ.
But if you’re like me and fortunate enough to work in a private office that is (usually) relatively quiet. There are some really interesting possibilities here.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make an emergency run for office supplies.