When Microsoft made the decision to port a Halo-inspired AI assistant named Cortana to Windows 10 and Xbox One, there were many fans of the series who appreciated the gesture. The transition meant that Cortana was now a disembodied (albeit friendly) voice, no longer featuring the totally-not-nude body she had from the Halo series. One fan, however, wanted to experience what Cortana would be like if Microsoft had developed the assistant with her holographic humanoid body in tow.
The result is an AI assistant capable of responding to user queries, swiping and sliding tiny versions of different applications with her holographic body. The impressive interactive display was built by a Halo fan named Jarem Archer, and while it’s still a work-in-progress, the display is quite capable of assisting with queries, and even tracks the user’s face so that Cortana is always facing the right direction.
Gamers can take a look at Cortana in action below:
The device uses an illusion called the Pepper’s Ghost technique, which utilizes mirrors to project the appearance of a 3D object – in this case, Cortana. She’s running on a Windows 10 device with only 4GB of RAM, in tandem with some Arduino-run light displays to give her the light she needs to exist in the 3D realm. Impressively, Jarem 3D printed each part of the assembly, with the end result being a futuristic-looking light pyramid complete with an omni-directional microphone and a solid speaker setup.
For Cortana herself, a Unity 3D application both presents and animates her holographic form using three different camera angles. A secondary application parses data sent both to and from the official Cortana service, rendering the results back into a format that the Unity 3D app can understand, allowing her to present this information to the user. For the actual motion capture segments, Jarem recruited his wife, recording her with two different Kinects at the same time.
Now that the basic platform is in place, Jarem says he can extend her functionality by building more UWP apps. This means Cortana can move beyond basic user queries about the weather, and will eventually be able to control everything from connected household appliances to Spotify playlists. The intrepid Halo fan says that he may toy with these functionalities and present fans with a video at a later date, but for now, we can all appreciate how neat it is to see a functional holographic Cortana. In any event, it’s certainly an upgrade over poor old Paperclip.
Would you want a holographic Cortana as an assistant, Ranters?
The most recent entry in the Halo franchise is Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One.