Microsoft's Cortana Intelligence Institute will explore what's next for the digital assistant

Microsoft has announced the establishment of the Cortana Intelligence Institute, a new effort to work on "next-generation capabilities" for Cortana. The institute's work will be a collaborative effort between Microsoft Research, Cortana Research, and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, Microsoft says.

The group will work to continue Cortana's evolution through new and increasingly complex capabilities by sharing expertise and research. One goal, for example, is expanding Cortana from working with basic queries to supporting things like assisting with tasks that may involve multiple steps and an understanding of context. The Cortana Research Team is already working on bringing more complex task management to Cortana, but that work will now be bolstered by research from RMIT focused on contextual understanding.

Researchers at RMIT University will also work with Microsoft researchers to help incorporate things like the physical activity, location, and app usage to better understand tasks that Cortana users are working on. From Microsoft:

The research at RMIT for the institute is focused on work-related tasks, an area with strong potential to help make Cortana a more proactive and context-aware digital assistant that truly amplifies human capabilities. Microsoft's researchers will collaborate with RMIT team members on the development of algorithms that use the novel dataset to improve Cortana.

As Microsoft, like other tech companies, continues to place a focus on AI, it has placed a specific emphasis on Cortana. In addition to bringing the digital assistant to more services and apps, Microsoft has promised Cortana will come to more devices in 2018. The Harman Kardon Invoke and GLAS thermostat are two recent examples of this, but a collaboration with Qualcomm could portend Cortana's arrival on many other IoT devices.