At Mycroft we are in both exciting and challenging times. Exciting for us and our community is that we have many people using the Developer Kits; many of whom have provided much positive feedback. There have been no significant hardware issues, and our custom made daughter board – the SJ201 has been performing beautifully – yay!
We are also excited about getting ready to produce the production Mark II in volume. To do this, we need to select a contract manufacturer and establish a supply chain for the parts. The big challenge right now will be procuring parts due to major Integrated Chip (ICs) shortages. The question is how big a speed bump the supply chain issue will be. Fasten your seatbelt as we get ready for the production journey during rough supply chain seas!
Our primary focus right now in the Manufacturing space is choosing a contract manufacturer (CM) who is a good match for us and our product. Our most important considerations are:
- Quality is integrated part of their process
- Design team who can help us get to market, and work with us on the next generation of product
- Strong purchasing department with good supply chain tools and supplier relationships
- Getting us to production successfully in a predictable, timely manner
In April we identified several prospective CMs, sent them a request for proposal (RFP). We are expecting first pass reponses over the next week at which time we will narrow the list down to a few finalists. We are targeting June to choose our CM, then we will begin the design for manufacturing review and move to production. One of the major steps the CM design team will do is to review our existing design and update it for manufacturability. This will include engineering and creating tooling for plastic injection molding.
Parallel to the above effort, we will work with the CM purchasing team to assess the supply situation. The part issue is big; there are some critical ICs that currently have zero inventory at suppliers, and are showing over a year lead time. This is an industry-wide problem. Our aspiration is to begin producing Mark II production units this fall, but we need parts to do that. If the supply situation for our current design does not improve we will evaluate other options including modifying our design to use parts that are available (without compromising quality or functionality) or moving on to the next generation design, taking advantage of the necessary lead times to cost-reduce and improve the design for 2022. We’re trying very hard to avoid further delays, but if it’s beyond our control we’ll make the best of it.
On the bright side, we have been able to procure enough parts to build additional Dev Kits to meet customer orders. Getting those parts was no small feat! We are targeting to ship these Dev Kits by the end of June.
- Take a screenshot with your Mark II thanks to the GUI wizardry of @AIIX and their new Screenshot Skill
- New visual design framework courtesy of our CDO Derick. This means you’ll start to see a more consistent visual experience when using the Mark II.
- We’re going through each of the Core Skills one-by-one and giving them focused attention for usability, including fixing large and small bugs and updating the GUI with the new design framework.
- The Weather Skill is the first to get this attention, as well as a major overhaul to use the new Open Weather Maps API.
- We nailed down a memory leak in the board support package – a compatibility layer for the hardware. This was causing Mark II Dev Kits to severely slow down after an extended period of up-time. Now you should be able to leave your Mark II running as long as you like.
- Fixed multiple issues with the LED ring behaviour where they would get stuck in a thinking mode, and another in which the 80% volume level would not display.
- Fixed an issue with the on-screen keyboard that would prevent it from being hidden again.
- Fixed scrolling and touch behaviour in the browser. Being able to launch web applications adds a whole suite of exciting possibilities for the Mark II.
What we’re working on now:
- Lingua Franca, our multilingual formatting and parsing library, is jumping from v0.2.2 to v0.4.1 as we’ve had a lot of exciting new contributions from the community. Catalan support has been added thanks to @jmontane and a number of others. We’ve also got new features and bug fixes for French, Dutch, English, Polish, and Slovenian. This has been made possible by a large refactor of the code (mostly by @ChanceNCounter and @JarbasAl), that makes it significantly easier for contributors to add localized functions for their own language.
- The Timer, Alarm and News Skills are currently each receiving the same usability treatment that the Weather Skill just did.
If you want to test out the new Skills while they’re still in beta you can point your Mycroft device to the dev channel of the Marketplace by running:
mycroft-config set skills.msm.repo.branch dev
While we have some major work and challenges to get production up and running, we remain enthusiastic about the progress we’ve made and on what is to come. We have an exciting product thanks to the Mycroft team and community. As we implement manufacturing, we will be getting our business systems and processes up to par to meet the expected growth in orders. We strive for not only a great product, but great experience for our customers from the order to the day to day usage of Mycroft. We thank our community for your support and patience and encourage you to keep up the great ideas and contributions.
Duane joined Mycroft March 2021. He has extensive experience in program management, IT, manufacturing, and as an entrepreneur. He is an enthusiast for skiing, playing guitar, music, biking, innovation, reading, learning, and good comedy (alright, even bad humour!). He is a believer, and excited about Mycroft, our staff, our product, our vision, our community, and our customers! Let’s all make it happen – great product by good people for good people.