Someone Turned Halo's Cortana Into a Holographic Assistant

Device uses "Pepper's Ghost" technique to provide the illusion of three dimensions.

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May 11 2017, 6:13pm

The Cortana digital assistant for Windows 10 is cool enough (when it works, anyway), but it lacks much of the holographic flair of its cerulean namesake from the Halo first-person shooter series.

Developer Jared Archer recently remedied this by making his own holographic version of Cortana and showing off the results in a new YouTube video. Whenever he asks Cortana a question, he'll get the same answers and services he'd get on a Windows 10 laptop or desktop machine, but now they're presented by the game's holographic assistant, who pulls virtual screens out of thin air.

"It's basically what I imagine Microsoft's version of Alexa or Google Home would be like if they were to use the holographic sidekick from the Halo franchise," Archer says in the video. Archer achieved the optical illusion of a 3D Cortana by using the Pepper's Ghost technique along with three panes of mirror glass and a USB monitor. He used a 3D printer to create much of the appliance, which in turn is powered by a Windows 10 device with 4GB of RAM along with an Arduino unit for controlling the lights. A Unity 3D app transmits the image of "Cortana" from three different angles, and a front-facing camera with face tracking adjusts to the viewer to ensure that Cortana always looks as though she's physically there.

Archer's wife served as the motion capture model for Cortana, and he used two Microsoft Kinect motion sensors to record her movements and apply them to his Cortana model in Unity.
"As you can imagine, since this is all using the native [Windows] 10 Cortana, this device can not only be used for knowledge-based queries but also home automation and music tasks, too." Archer says.

You can check out a more thorough explanation of Archer's methods on his website.