Microsoft's Cortana assistant will help future cars anticipate and avoid accidents


After missing out on the smartphone revolution a decade ago, Microsoft intends to not miss the next big thing.


Halo Cortana


Cortana is a disembodied voice on WP8 based on the Halo character

Besides investing in things like augmented reality and Windows 10 on all of your devices, the company is working with dozens of auto makers to bring its software and services to more cars, the company announced in a Tuesday blog post.

Microsoft says it's partnering with Volvo, Nissan, and IAV - which supplies components and parts for major car companies like Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and others - to make their cars more intelligent and "connected."

"People expect their car's computing power to match its horsepower," Microsoft's VP of business development Peggy Johnson wrote in the post, adding that automakers are "choosing Microsoft because we uniquely deliver end-to-end solutions from the cloud, to the device, to predictive analytics, and do so in a way that allows all our partners to innovate on top of their existing systems."

Microsoft struck a few special deals: Volvo will integrate Microsoft's fitness band and line of Windows 10-powered smartphones to interact with its vehicles, Harman will integrate Skype and Office 365 to add more productivity tools to the company's line of car infotainment systems, and Nissan's Leaf and Infiniti cars will have its in-car systems powered by Microsoft Azure.


But perhaps the biggest deal here is that IAV, which works with countless major auto companies across the world. The company will work with Microsoft to (emphasis ours) "stream Windows 10 via a mobile device directly to a car's dashboard, giving drivers access to Windows 10 features and apps such as Cortana, Skype for Business, Calendar, Outlook and Groove music while the vehicle is in autonomous driving mode or parked."

It's interesting that Microsoft goes so far to mention that it will work with self-driving cars. Microsoft even says it will use Cortana's data to analyze the car's surroundings "to improve safety by anticipating and mitigating potential vehicle and pedestrian accidents."

It's not surprising to see Microsoft invest more into connected cars: many of the company's Silicon Valley rivals are also getting into the game, as Google is working with Ford on driverless car technology, as are Uber and Tesla, GM and Lyft, etc. Right now, it looks like the big car companies are working more with tech companies to make their cars safer, more independent and more efficient, so it's a smart move on behalf of Microsoft to work with so many different companies in so many different ways. If anything, it's insurance that the next big thing in ground transportation (self-driving cars) won't happen without Microsoft.

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