Say Hello To This Cortana Hologram

Halo’s Cortana enters the real world with this internet appliance. [Jarem Archer] has built an amazing “holographic” home for Cortana of Halo and Windows fame. The display isn’t really a hologram, it uses the age-old Pepper’s ghost illusion. A monitor reflects onto 3 angled half mirrored panels. This creates a convincing 3D effect. Cortana herself is a 3D model. [Jarem’s] wife provided gave Cortana her moves by walking in front of dual Kinect depth-sensing cameras. This motion capture performance drives the 3D Cortana model on the screen.

The brain behind this hack is the standard Windows 10 Cortana voice assistant. Saying “Hey Cortana” wakes the device up. To make the whole experience more interactive, [Jarem] added a face detection camera to the front of the device. When a face is detected, the Cortana model turns toward the user. Even if several people are watching the device, it would seem as if Cortana was “talking to” one person in the audience.

The cherry on top of this hack is the enclosure. [Jarem] 3D printed a black plastic stage. An Arduino drives RGB LEDs whenever Cortana is activated. The LEDs project a blue glue that works well with the Pepper’s ghost illusion. The result is a project that looks like something Microsoft might have cooked up in one of their research labs.

We’ve covered several Pepper’s ghost hacks over the years. It’s a simple effect to pull off. Given the right lighting conditions, it looks great!

27 thoughts on “Say Hello To This Cortana Hologram

  1. Thank goodness HaD has the sense to tell a hologram from a reflection.

    Still, a very cool project. I’m hoping to see a lot more like this once the Cortana SDK is finally released.

    1. The guy that made the project misuses the term, he says “Pepper’s ghost hologram” rather than “Pepper’s ghost optical illusion”. It is very annoying but then again probably less than 0.001% population understand what a hologram really is and what the holo part of the word signifies.

      1. It’s just like calling quadcopters “drones” or those mini-segways “hoverboards”. What ends up being the popular term often doesn’t really match reality.

    1. That was different. It used a parabolic mirror to somehow project the virtual image directly into your eye. There was no intermediate screen, not even a clear one like Pepper’s Ghost uses.

      1. I want to be a serial clipper now. I will just trespass in random people’s living room, and leave annoying unhelpful Clippy hologram machines on their furniture.

        You are next!

  2. it has lights, it has voice recognition, it has speech synthesis, it has 3d graphics, it looks like a hologram.
    On a coolness scale from 0..10 this is certainly an 11 !!!

    1. Too late :-P

      I’d prefer an earlier rendition of Cortana, so she’d look more modest, more like a *digital assistant* and less like an image from a Tron-themed bachelor party…besides, I won’t lie, Halo 4’s Cortana is a bit too “curvy” for my taste ;-)

  3. when we have actual real 3d holograms how come everyone is spending this much energy on simple reflections?

    well they prefer to be called volumetric displays but there are some that dont require a substrate at all.

  4. I’m guessing this is heavily sponsored, for a normal person would not be enthusiastic about freaking cortana.
    Mind you it’s very nicely done, and the way it walks out of materialization is so neat that you think that can’t possibly be done by a MS sponsored project, it’s too well done :) But still though, I maintain my assumption.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.