Qualcomm cozies up to Cortana with smart audio and mesh networking platforms

Qualcomm is tapping Microsoft's Cortana to be an integrated part of its mesh networking and smart audio platforms, the company revealed in a pair or announcements at CES 2018. This sets the stage for Cortana to make its way to smart home products that leverage Qualcomm's platforms, ranging from smart speakers to security systems and many other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Qualcomm initially launched its mesh networking platform in 2017 as a way for IoT devices to communicate with one another around your home. The latest update to Qualcomm's reference design integrates its Aqstic tech with Cortana to "create virtually seamless voice-driven experiences in the home." The aim is to enable manufacturers to take advantage of integrated voice services in devices that leverage its mesh networking platform to communicate. Through the integration, you could start seeing Cortana included with more smart devices on the market and, subsequently, within homes.

"Microsoft and Qualcomm Technologies are working together on a variety of strategic projects, and we're pleased that Qualcomm Technologies is bringing the power of Cortana to the mesh networking platform," said Jordi Ribas, corporate vice president, AI products, Microsoft. "Microsoft technology on Qualcomm Technologies' powered devices will empower people's creativity and productivity at work and at home."

Qualcomm is bolstering Cortana integration with its mesh networking platform by also announcing integration of Microsoft's digital assistant with its smart audio platform. According to Qualcomm, the platform "integrates the hardware and software required to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) reduce the time and cost of developing smart speakers with support for the intelligent digital assistance provided by Microsoft Cortana." Support for Cortana in the platform is expected to be available within the first half of 2018, and we can expect to start seeing smart speakers using Qualcomm's platform and Cortana pop up after that.

Cortana isn't the only smart assistant on which Qualcomm is placing bets; the chipmaker also made several announcements related to the integration of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, this is potentially a big boon for Cortana in a year where voice assistants are seemingly everywhere and Microsoft is looking to expand its own across smart speakers like the Harman Kardon Invoke and other IoT devices.