Microsoft’s Home Hub Looks To Bring Cortana To The Kitchen

Posted on October 18, 2016 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 36 Comments

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A few days back, I wrote about how the market for AI-driven computing is exploding, especially in the kitchen. Devices like the Amazon Echo and soon to be released Google Home, are delivering a new spin on what ‘computing’ can be like and now we are seeing evidence of Microsoft going down this path too.

The name ‘Home Hub’ has been spotted several times in various places across Microsoft documentation and now we have a bit more information about the device. Spotted by WalkingCat on Twitter, he found a user-profile on LinkedIn from a Microsoft employee that gives us new information about the device.

Starting in June of 2015, Guangjun Wang states he has been working on a “Home hub project aimed to build a smart kitchen based on the Microsoft’s Cortana and Azure Cloud.” Further, the device will use a mic array firmware from Cypress and Zigbee infrastructure to build the device.

It seems quite obvious how Microsoft could build a small headless PC that lives in the Kitchen and is powered by Cortana. Because the company has invested heavily in voice recognition and machine learning, this type of device is perfect for the kitchen and the fact that it can link to your smartphone, tablet, PC, and Xbox, offers it a competitive advantage.

One interesting thing that Microsoft could do with this device is allow it to work with Skype translator. Because this tool is growing in functionality and can translate conversations at a high-enough level to be useful, they could sell these devices to international hotel chains (or similar) to help travelers warm-up to local culture or make conversations easier between two users who do not speak the same language easier.

The key for Microsoft will be to deliver a product that is at least functionally on-par with every other device that exists today but then also add in cognitive abilities that they have developed to introduce more advanced features using its cloud infrastructure. As long as the price is right, Microsoft has a good chance of being able to deliver a differentiated product but it needs to ship sooner rather than later.

Seeing as there is an event next week in NYC, here’s to hoping they announce the device at that keynote.

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