One of the features of Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant in Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to integrate the technology into third-party apps, and the home automation company Insteon provided an early example this morning — saying that users of its Windows Phone app will be able to speak to Cortana to dim the lights and adjust the temperature, among other commands.
The company, which has a retail partnership with Microsoft, says the feature will work by saying “Insteon,” and then describing whatever the user wants the app to do, such as shifting to a particular scene in a house, i.e., “Insteon, turn on ‘Movie Time.’ ”
Insteon says the feature will be added to its Windows Phone app “in the upcoming months.”
Third-party app integration is one of the features that Microsoft is hoping will distinguish Cortana in its competition with Google Now and Apple’s Siri.
Microsoft sells Insteon sensors for business and home use through its online and physical stores. The Insteon home automation platform, developed in Irvine, Calif., is popular among hobbyists in part because it doesn’t require payment of ongoing fees.
The Cortana announcement comes in advance of Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., which will start shortly, available to view here online.