If modern virtual assistants were as awesome as this fan-built Cortana device, maybe we'd be more into having them on display in our homes.

Since Siri came onto the scene in 2011, many companies have tried to follow suit with virtual assistants of their own. Google and Amazon have taken things from the smartphone to the home with Home and Echo respectively, and Apple has even incorporated Siri into laptops and Apple TV to give its users more ways to ask its digital Girl Friday for help and information.

Microsoft's Window 10 Mobile escapades may not have quite the same marketshare as the competition, but thanks to implementing that Windows ecosystem in phones, PCs and the Xbox platform, Microsoft's Cortana is still widely available on a number of devices. To this point though, like all the other virtual assistants, Cortana is just a disembodied voice coming from a box.

That's where Jarem Archer's homemade Cortana hardware comes into play.

We learned about Archer's project from Kotaku, and quickly became fascinated by the idea of the Halo co-star being more like her video game iteration and less like a voice that merely answers our requests to open Netflix on our Xbox Ones. Look, the idea of virtual assistants is great, and we love that they're being adapted quickly to home devices rather than being relegated to our pockets.

But Cortana started as an artificial intelligence that had a physical presence, and her implementation into the Microsoft world was a little underwhelming. With Archer's home-built appliance, he finally gets the Cortana that Halo fans have been waiting for, and that could give Microsoft the edge against the competition... if it ever does something like what Archer has created.

To be fair to Microsoft, we have seen some similar concepts from its HoloLens experiments, but those still require you to wear massive goggles on your head. Archer's device sits comfortably on a counter, where you can chat with Cortana about the weather, summon some Bing searches, or set calendar reminders. It's still just a fan project right now, but it's one that has us envious of Archer's programming and hardware skills (and his wife's patience for motion capture).

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