Holographic AI Assistant Brings HALO’s Cortana to Life

Although it seems that, for now, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Google Home are dominating the market for in-home AI assistants, player three, a.k.a. Microsoft, has yet to enter the game. Although if it wanted to, the tech giant could make a late entrance in style, taking inspiration from software and web developer Jarem Archer’s real-life version of Cortana from Halo. And yes, you could probably get her to call you Master Chief.

Jarem, who’s not only a programmer, but also “an artist with the ability to defuse a microwave with 1-second to go,” turned his tech talents toward building a “concept Cortana appliance” for his latest build on his YouTube channel, untitled network. There’s only one other build up there as of this writing, but it’s great too, and involves some very sensual lighting.

For those unaware, Microsoft did indeed name its AI assistant after Cortana from the Halo game franchise, although the former generally spends much less time helping you defeat The Covenant than the latter. With Archer’s build however, the next time you ask your intelligent personal assistant for the best local spot for Pokémon burgers, you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped into the Outer Colonies ready to do combat.

Cortana from the Halo game series. Image: Flickr / Bungie via Ben Darlow

In the video, Archer notes that the build utilizes “a Windows 10 device with 4GB of RAM, and a built-in Arduino used for the platform lights.” Archer 3D printed the base, and also gave his real-life Cortana a little pyramid made of three panes of mirrored glass. The holographic Cortana also utilizes real-time face tracking via a front-facing camera, which Archer says “moves the rendered camera perspective relative to a single viewer’s head position.” As for who dared to step into the virtual shoes of Cortana, that was Archer’s wife, who had to undergo “many takes of motion capture” to develop the basis for the hologram’s movements.

It should also be noted that Microsoft may already have created its first version of its competitor for this market with the “Harman Kardon + Cortana” appliance they teased back in December of last year:

Archer provides a far more in-depth explanation of the build on his blog, and he also says that in the future, he may add home automation and music tasks. No word yet on whether or not his Cortana will play a critical role in the Human-Covenant War.

What do you think about this real-life Cortana? Say Halo in the comments below!

Images: YouTube / untitled network

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