“Cortana, wake up.” Seriously, that’s it. Say those words to a snoozing Windows 10 computer with a sixth-generation Intel Core processor, and it’ll wake right up from sleep. That’s because the new Intel Skylake processors will always be listening for that command, thanks to a low-power digital signal processor (DSP) built right into the chip.
(Technically, the feature was already included in last year’s Core M chips, but Windows 10 and Cortana weren’t yet here to take advantage of it.)
We just saw a demonstration of the feature on stage at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today, and while it might not seem like such a groundbreaking feature if you’ve ever owned a Moto X smartphone—whose Google Now voice assistant has had always-on listening since 2013—it’d be pretty neat if your plain ol’ Windows computer could do the same, yes? (As long as you’re not worried about government entities spying on you, that is.)
Hell, combine this with Windows Hello and a 3D camera, and you’ll be able to turn on your computer AND securely unlock it without lifting a finger.
Intel didn’t say whether the feature would require any special audio hardware built into the computer—such as dual microphones with beamforming support—but I’d hope not. Cortana’s a classy lady who prefers high-end audio hardware, sure, but her normal Windows 10 incarnation doesn’t have too much trouble with crappy off-the-shelf microphones.
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