As the gaming medium continues to rise in popularity and become more than just a simple pastime for kids, it’s just a matter of time before its appropriation into non-gaming mediums reaches a level similar to that of the film industry. Need an example? In the not-so-distant future, phone users could find themselves interacting with a familiar artificial intelligence from the Halo universe whenever they talk to their device.
After months of rumors that Microsoft would be bringing Cortana, the iconic A.I. from the Halo franchise, to mobile devices as a competitor to Apple’s Siri, the speculation is one step closer to fruition. Jen Taylor, the actress who lends her voice to the famous A.I., will reportedly be contributing her voice to the upcoming Microsoft mobile venture.
The news comes from MSFTnerd and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put it all together: The service will be named Cortana, it is voiced by the actress who plays Cortana in the Halo series, and will be important to Microsoft’s push to win people onto their side of the war of mobile devices. While nothing on this front has been been explicitly confirmed by Microsoft, the move seems logical. As an all-in-one entertainment brand, one of the largest things Xbox has going for it is the presence of a few iconic characters. With gaming penetrating the real world more and more frequently and Microsoft blurring the lines between their products and services, a familiar face could be exactly what they need to sell users on their mobile devices.
If this turns out to be true, US developers could be getting their hands on the app’s beta on Lumia (Microsoft acquired Nokia’ phone business in September) devices this April. For those on other platforms, it is then rumored that Cortana will become available on the Bing app for iPhone in the US this fall with functionality making its way to the Xbox One and Windows sometime in 2015 thanks to the rumored Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, that is purported to establish a stronger connection between the different Microsoft platforms. Those in other English-speaking locations will have to wait a little longer with Cortana supposedly rolling out over 2015 and 2016. With a new Halo release slated for later this year, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
While this could simply end up being a case of a large corporation appropriating an iconic face in order to sell units, it could also represent a large step forward for the gaming medium in its struggle to break out into the real world and other mediums. The hope is that Cortana will not only allow users to communicate with her in a much more natural way, but also learn and adapt as time passes. With the proper implementation, this could very well change the landscape of voice recognition and commands. Rather than being forced to enunciate every syllable in a robotic fashion in order for a given app to understand you, Cortana’s “natural” understanding and recognition could provide a much-needed increase to the accessibility of voice commands.
Would you welcome a voice recognition app that is able to be interfaced with more naturally? Do you think that the trend of bringing gaming icons into the real world will continue to grow or fizzle out?