These Magic Words Will Wake Your Next Intel-Powered Computer

By Sean Hollister on at

“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've seen a demonstration of the feature on stage at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, 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?

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.