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September 5, 2017

BFF’s in the Computer World: Alexa and Cortana

My BFF in grade school (Acoma Elementary, here in Albuquerque, by the way) was Mary Chavez.

 

Don’t bail on me here! I’m using an analogy….

 

Mary and I went all the way through high school together, and even unexpectedly got our first “professional” jobs in the same manufacturing company one day apart from each other. We were likely choices of best friends; we never competed against each other and always got along even though we had very separate strengths and career paths.


Ok, once again, you’re wondering why I’m talking about something that appears totally unrelated to computers. I do have a method to my madness, as they say.


Cortana and Alexa are the latest BFF’s in the computer world. Much to Seri’s dismay, I am sure.


These “entities” are the intelligent personal assistants given voices, access to HUGE search engine data bases and special features by Microsoft (Cortana) and Amazon (Alexa). They will soon be teaming up to utilize their resources. Seri, is the name given to Apple’s personal assistant and she is, so far, left out in the cold as far as this collaboration goes…. At least at this time.


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos proposed integrating Alexa and Cortana in May, to Microsoft chief Satya Nadella and the idea was accepted.


Cortana, being the digital assistant for Windows phones, Windows 8 and Windows 10 platforms, interfaces completely with your Windows-based computer, files, Outlook Calendar and more.


Right now, Amazon’s Alexa doesn’t have access to, or rather doesn’t understand the different ways to interface to Windows based devices. However, you may be familiar with invoking the assistance of Alexa (Named after the ancient library of Alexandria, BTW), on your smart phone and SMART devices such as your Echo speakers, by speaking her name to dim your lights or play your favorite music and get other information on your SMART phone.


In the beginning of this collaboration you’ll need to ask them for each other’s assistance, by saying something like, “Cortana, open Alexa” from your Windows 10 computer or vice versa.


I am eager to see the collaboration of Cortana, and Alexa. This might not seem like a big deal, but Alexa is being utilized in 90% of the SMART devices now. Cortana, being Microsoft’s product, is adept at interfacing to anything associated with your windows-based computer. Together they become even more beneficial to all of us!


The future holds something like this: You’re standing in your living room where your Echo speakers are located. You are about to begin your day and you say, “Alexa, start coffee, play ‘La Macarena’ and find my keys”, your coffee is brewing, your keys are located instantly and you feel good vibes as you listen to your favorite song. OK, that’s not MY favorite song, but somewhere out there, it is someone’s…. Then you say, “Alexa, ask Cortana what’s on my Outlook Calendar today”. And your day’s events, along with the locations are verbalized to you. Then you ask, “Alexa, ask Cortana to print my word document called, “Proposal for Computer Corner”. All this is accomplished with voice commands and no hands-on interface to your computer or phone.


Of course it goes well beyond these capabilities, and I can’t wait!

 

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