Windows 10 Creators Update: Now Cortana can turn your Raspberry Pi into a virtual assistant

Build your own home assistant with a $35 Raspberry Pi running Windows 10 IoT Core, linked to a speaker and mic.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

With the Creators Update of Windows 10 IoT Core, developers with a Raspberry Pi 3 or 2 will be able fire up Cortana.

Image: Raspberry Pi Foundation

With the latest Windows 10 IoT Core release, you can now turn your Raspberry Pi into a Cortana-powered personal assistant for the home.

Microsoft has enabled Cortana in the Creators Update build for the developer board version of Windows 10, dubbed Windows 10 IoT Core, which is available for download today.

Developers with a Raspberry Pi 3 or 2, MinnowBoards MAX, Intel Joule, or the DragonBoard 410c will be able fire up Cortana once the device has been equipped with a speaker and microphone.

The inclusion of Cortana will allow developers and OEMs to build what Microsoft calls a "reactive experience" by having Cortana respond to a query.

It also aims to allow the user to skip through multiple steps to complete a task. Cortana on Windows Core IoT is designed to support devices with smaller screens, such as thermostats and refrigerators, according to Microsoft.

Cortana's skillset on the Windows 10 IoT Core Creators Update includes: Reminder, To-do list, Traffic/Restaurant, Chit Chat, Dictionary, Finance, Health, News, Reference, Show Times, Calculator, Weather, Entity look up, Events, Sports, and Time zone.

You'll be able to ask questions like: "What is the traffic to my home?" or "What song is this?", or ask Cortana to tell you a joke. Exiting Cortana requires the command "Hey Cortana", followed by "Cancel".

There are still some important features missing for Cortana on Windows 10 IoT Core to be a practical home assistant. For example, it doesn't yet support music playback, calendar, alarm, and timer.

The update could put Microsoft, albeit without its own hardware, in the same space as Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant and its Echo smart speaker.

Google is also planning to bring its artificial-intelligence and machine-learning technologies to the Raspberry Pi this year, and recently launched its Actions on Google program to allow developers to build Actions for Google Assistant.

Microsoft says any microphone model should work with Cortana, but it's tested several for better speech-recognition quality. These include Blue Microphones Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone, Cardioid; Sound Tech CM-1000USB Table Top Conference Meeting Microphone with Omni-Directional Stereo; and the Microsoft LifeCam HD 3000.

To try Cortana on IoT Core, you'll need to say, "Start Cortana on Boot" on the Device Settings of Windows Device Portal and restart the device. You'll also need to sign in with a Microsoft account and consent to using Cortana.

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