World Cup fever has heated the summer of 2014. The world’s most popular sport football or soccer here in the US, is kicking its way into the hearts, minds, conversations even social media threads of fans and non fans alike. People around the globe are clamoring for their team to rise victorious from the fray. For most, the result of the skirmish won’t be known until one team is leaving the field beneath the shadow of defeat and the other basking in the glow of victory. For others however the answer can be had even before the team’s feet touch the field.
Microsoft’s Bing powered Cortana, Windows Phone’s Digital Assistant akin to Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now, via Bing Predictions, has demonstrated an uncanny ability to predict the winners and losers of each World Cup match she has applied her techno-powered precognitive skills to. Though the results of her powerfully precise skills could be confused with having at their core supernatural origins the truth is founded more in the realm of empirical data and number crunching.
In over simplified terms, Bing, Microsoft’s search engine that powers Cortana, makes it’s prediction, by scouring over teams’ records, elements of the schedule, location data related to home field advantage, weather, the playing surface, as well as other relevant variables. This is intriguing and interesting information to some; and somewhat boring data to others. The results however are something we can all get excited about. Well unless you’re on the losing end of the predictions that is. Yes, this is because this programmable precog has gotten her predictions right 100% of the time. Even the nail biting, extended time, penalty kicking “kicker” of a match, the Netherlands vs Costa Rica, which had fans on the edges of their seats Saturday July 5th , 2014, was foreseen and accurately predicted by Microsoft’s digital assistant. Cortana predicted that the Netherlands would win and after a scoreless match for both teams the Netherlands kicked their way to victory via penalty kicks. The flawless prediction streak continues for Windows Phone’s digital assistant from future.
Oh, I did mention that Cortana is from the future right? Yes, Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana is named after the artificially intelligent assistant to Master Chief, the hero of Microsoft’s highly acclaimed and globally successful gaming franchise, Halo. The Halo phenomenon has spawned numerous Halo games, themed media, collectibles, novels, a Halo digital series to be released with Halo: The Master Chief Collection this Fall and even an upcoming Showtime television series called Halo: The TV Show, directed by Steven Spielberg. Approximately fifteen years after her entry into the market as a gaming persona in 1999, Cortana has transitioned from the 26th century world of Halo to Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform with the promises that she will also be available on other Microsoft products in the near future. In Halo Cortana is an indispensable resource and companion to Master Chief. On Windows Phone she is the same to smartphone users.
Cortana upon request can do many things on behalf of a Windows Phone user such as set location, time and even people based reminders. For example a user can say remind me to ask mom about her cat next time I talk to her. The next time you communicate with mom via phone call, email or text, Cortana will remind you to ask her about her cat. Cool! Neither Siri nor Google Now can do this. Cortana who is powered by neural network technology which mimics the nervous system (a technology Apple has yet to implement for Siri) allows her to learn favorite places, interests, travel patterns and many other things so that she can better assist Windows Phone users. Like a real assistant she gets to know you. Microsoft actually interviewed real personal assistants when creating Cortana and imbued her with the attributes that they learned from their interviews make a good personal assistant. One thing they learned is that all personal assistants use a notebook to record important information. Thus a cool notebook function has been included by Microsoft into Cortana that gives users control over what Cortana “knows” allowing a level of privacy control absent from Apple and Android devices. Cortana can perform a myriad assortment of important and fun tasks such as set calendar events, search information, place a call, tell jokes, do impersonations, play music, and among many other things, predict the results of World Cup matches.
Google’s Cloud Platform shares this prediction ability and also had a flawless prediction record. Well, that was until Friday July 4th 2014 when Google’s prediction France, was beat by Cortana’s prediction, Germany 1-0. Cortana’s prediction record jumped to 12-0. Google’s streak came to an abrupt halt. Apple’s Siri came late to the game, but offers only half joking non-committal predictions with statements like, “It’s a tossup(if you’ve got a coin, heads says France win, tails says Germany.)” Really Siri? Cortana’s statements when asked have been as bold and confident as “I think Brazil has this on in the bag”, in relation to a Brazil match. Either Cortana, named after the artificially intelligent assistant to Master Chief, John-117, from the wildly successful Xbox game Halo is really from the future, or Bing the brain behind Cortana, is indeed the formidable contender to Google Microsoft claims that it is.
Which ever the case Tuesday July 8th Brazil and Germany will face-off. This will be followed by the July 9th match between the Netherlands and Argentina. Cortana’s picks? Germany will defeat Brazil and the Netherlands will fall to Argentina. Bing which is of course the brains behind Cortana, to the masses is a second rate search engine, commanding only a fraction of the space dominated by Google.For Bing’s prediction, via Cortana, to prove accurate above that of the market leader Google is like David’s one smooth stone taking down the armored and battle hardened Goliath. Yet Microsoft’s Bing powered digital assistant Cortana accomplished this with the stage being the biggest sporting event in the world, World Cup 2014.
Bing is not to be underestimated. Tens of millions of people use it every day but don’t know it. Bing powers search in Apples Spotlight on Macs OS X and iOS. Bing also provides search for Siri on the 100s of millions of iOS devices in circulation. Additionally whenever one of you 1 billion plus Facebook users perform a web search on Facebook, you’re using Bing. Thus all of the data provided daily by tens of millions of Bing users, is the resource that makes Cortana the neural networked powerful personal assistant she is. With this type of computational power as the backbone to Cortana, the Windows Phone digital assistant is certainly on its way to being the pop culture “Halo Effect” inducing hero feature Windows Phone needs. Now If Microsoft’s Bing powered digital assistant from the future continues her flawless FIFA World Cup 2014 prediction streak the future for this Windows Phone digital assistant looks even brighter.