Interest in smart home technology is constantly growing with tech giants like Amazon and Google having already announced their offerings, but now Microsoft wants to get in on the act.
According to a report from Windows Central, the American company is currently developing its own smart home software.
When launched, it will allow owners of Windows computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones to turn their devices into connected smart home hubs.
Home in your hands
They’ll be able to control lights, play music and ask questions throughout their homes, similar to the Amazon Echo and Google Home connected hubs.
The report says that ‘Home Hub’ isn’t specifically a physical device, so Microsoft isn’t looking to replicate Amazon and Google completely. It’s primarily software-based.
That said, it’ll have similar features and capabilities to existing smart home hubs and will become a major feature of Windows products. The software will also make device sharing easier.
Windows 10 compatible
It’s claimed that the software will be compatible with Windows 10-based products, specifically touchscreen-based computers and tablet PCs. But it’ll work with all Windows 10 hardware.
Families will be able to create Microsoft Home Hub accounts to manage the software and to activate different features. They will also be able to create to-do lists and manage calendars.
There’ll also be direct access to Cortana, Microsoft’s AI-powered personal assistant, and it’ll be used for voice control. This is similar to Apple’s HomeKit Siri integrations.
Windows Central says Microsoft is likely to work with third-party hardware providers to develop Hub devices. The firm is already thought to be in talks with HP and Lenovo.
Microsoft puts AI in your home
Vlad Sejnoha, chief technology officer of AI solutions company Nuance Communications, said AI-enabled smart home hubs will become an integral part of the connected technology market over the next few years.
“Smart talking AIs at home will fire up the ecosystem of the Internet of Things, taking it from novelty machines to necessities. With companies aspiring to make their assistants omnipresent and their machines more interconnectable, they need capable speech recognition to get the job done,” he said.
“You’ll interact with your smart fridge or printer in a more natural way but also see a portable personal assistant that lives in a cloud and follows you around to help you navigate a complex world.”
Cross demographic interest
Nigel Wilson, managing director at Hitwise, said that this technology will prove popular with a variety of different demographics and that firms shouldn’t neglect older, less tech-savvy generations.
“Research shows that the older generation shouldn’t be discredited as users of smart home technology. As the smart home market matures with the launch of a second wave of small and capable devices, those products that have been tried and tested have the attention of users outside of a young, tech-savvy demographic,” he said.
“The popularity of these smart devices among older, regionally-based markets could be the reason for well-established retailers like Curry’s, John Lewis or Maplin Electronics driving a large part of search traffic.
“Amazon has found the model for selling smart devices by leading the market with the launch of its own-brand products, such as Amazon Echo, while hosting other brands’ products on its site.
“As the popularity of smart home devices rises, internet-only retailers should not underestimate the value traditional retailers add by providing a trusted and widely-recognised platform for ecommerce, supported by the amenity of physical stores.”