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Magic Mirror - Part 7: Cortana, hardware upgrade and change of course


Nothing has happened on the project for a few months now because too many other tasks took up too much time. However, the project is still more than interesting - after all, topics such as "Smart Home" and "Internet of Things" are shaping our daily lives. I will therefore continue this project - only with a slight change of hardware and course due to current developments and time constraints.

Cortana and hardware upgrade


Wouldn't it be cool to be able to control the Magic Mirror by voice? As a fan of Microsoft technologies, the announcement of Cortana integration with the Windows Creators Update (Build 15063) for Windows 10 IoT Core came in very handy. Cortana is a personal digital assistant from Microsoft - similar in principle to Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon and Google Assistant from Google.

Practical test

For the practical test, I had to install a new version of Windows 10 IoT Core - Nothing easier than that - and I was given the option to set up Cortana during the installation. You can also set it up later in the settings. A connection to the Microsoft account is important and necessary so that Cortana can retrieve and synchronize personal preferences, interests, locations, tasks and things of this kind. The Beautiful and simple design - at least when Cortana knows an answer and doesn't have to display the Bing search.

The microphone integrated in my webcam was recognized without any further problems. Due to the known Hey Cortana! it is possible to bring the assistant to the fore without any problems. Overall, the However, performance on the Raspberry Pi 2 is rather modest. The interface was clearly hanging and the voice sounded much earlier than this. There was partial support and it was clear that the digital assistant was not yet optimized for such a small device of this design.

Raspberry Pi 3

Due to the rather modest performance of Cortana on the Raspberry Pi 2, I quickly installed the Raspberry Pi 3 purchased. The significantly higher clock rates of the components speak for themselves. The Raspberry Pi 3 has identical dimensions to its predecessor and the connections are in the same place. The replacement was therefore completed within 5 minutes. As all data is stored on the SD card and Windows 10 IoT Core runs on both models, the Insert SD card into the new model without any modification.

I had high hopes that Cortana's performance would improve significantly and noticeably on the new device. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed in this respect: some things, such as setting up the interface and voice recognition, do work faster. But unfortunately there are still some (albeit fewer) crashes. If Microsoft continues to optimize the Cortana app with new versions of the operating system, Cortana would be a perfect addition to the planned app for the Magic Mirror. The very fact that they can be (very reliably) combined with Hey Cortana! offers great potential as a useful extension to a Magic Mirror.

Change of course

Well, I already took the above steps a few months ago. A lot has happened in the world since then:

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are on the rise and will gradually be included in the Microsoft Store and replace incentives for UWP apps.
  • Overall, the trend is moving towards web development, as almost every internet-enabled device now has an internet browser and websites are therefore universally accessible.
  • The number of websites is growing rapidly and much faster than that of apps.

Therefore I have for the above-mentioned and time reasons decided to change course and to to rely on a finished product in the future. There are various ready-made software kits that transform a mirror into a Magic Mirror with relatively little effort. The following projects are of particular interest to me:

What both projects have in common is that they are Web technologies build up.

Which project will I choose? I'll tell you in my next article!

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