Even though few people know this, Microsoft has a personal assistant of sorts, along the lines of Alexa and Apple’s Siri. It has been around for quite some time but it is definitely not as popular. It’s called “Cortana”, a nod to Microsoft’s blockbuster Xbox game series “Halo”. With BMW now launching its own Intelligent Personal Assistant and with the two companies having worked together in the past as well, an announcement came down the line that their efforts would soon be combined to create a joint platform for voice interaction.

The news came at the Microsoft Build developer conference that took place in Seattle this week. BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud powered by Microsoft Azure and the use of artificial intelligence are constantly enhancing the personal assistant’s capabilities. One project from the two companies focuses on the creation of an open-source platform that makes future conversations with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant more personalized, natural-sounding and multimodal, lending further depth to the system’s personality.

Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant Solution Accelerator built on Azure provides the necessary technological basis, leveraging Microsoft Azure cloud and AI capabilities such as Bot Framework and Cognitive Services. BMW customers could therefore arrange an appointment at their preferred BMW dealer, for instance, by simply talking with to the personal assistant. The conversation might start with a reminder that the service is due and finish with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant arranging the appointment.

In the same way, customers would also be able to manage their personal e-mails and calendar appointments during a journey. The BMW Group and Microsoft development teams in Munich and Seattle are working on a multitude of new skills with the aim of creating an assistant with cross-channel capabilities with whom BMW customers will be able to hold a natural conversation.