Skip to main content
June 6, 2014

Weekend project: control your home with Cortana

Using the power of Cortana and your voice, apps can be controlled by simply speaking. But, what if you could configure it to switch on your lights, turn on a ceiling fan and even lock your front door?

Conversations reader and electronics engineer, Binu Johnson, has done exactly that.


While the app (SmartHome) he uses to control this system is available in the Windows Phone Store, that alone won’t allow you to turn on your heating; you need the necessary hardware installed, too.

For anybody that’s willing, Binu has provided us with some tips for those who want to try something similar.

Buy the right hardware

The two main components you need are a Wi-Fi module and a microcontroller.

Wi-Fi module


You’ll need one with a serial port. Ensure it has its own IP address. The one Binu uses is the Hi-Link HLK-RM04.

With both your phone and Wi-Fi module on the same network, communication between devices is responsive and secure.


At the heart of the system is a microcontroller. Binu uses the ATmega32.

All commands sent by your Lumia are received and executed by this unit, passing your requests to the relevant sensors scattered around your home.

After that, your system could vary depending on what you want or need to control.

Binu has drawn a basic block diagram of his set up at home.


On the app side, Binu has made use of the Windows Phone Voice Commands feature and integrated them into his app. Details of which can be found here. It’s this integration that allows you to communicate with Cortana to get things done.

If you’re looking for an in-depth video on how to use Cortana with your apps, sit back, press play and watch as Rob Chambers, Principal Group Program Manager at Microsoft, demonstrates from BUILD 2014.

Our phones make our lives easier in some way. With a little know-how, and by spending no more than $50, Binu has turned his Lumia into the mother of all remote controls.

If you’d like to know more about this project, head over to Binu’s website.

Would you like to control your home with your Lumia? Have you achieved something similar? Share your stories with us in the comments below.