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Mark II Update – December

By December 23, 2019 No Comments
Mycroft Mark II Update

As the world winds down for the holiday season, we are winding up for a big 2020. 

We haven’t yet signed the agreement with our new hardware partner but expect to do so very early in the new year.  After the challenges we had last year with our hardware partner, we’re being very careful with due diligence. When we’ve signed we’ll make a big announcement.

Development efforts this month have focused on continuing to streamline the stack and reduce the load on system resources. We need to remain conscious not only of our upper resource limits, but also of heat, power and longevity issues that arise when running a device for extended periods. This is particularly important for a consumer device that runs 24/7.

As we outlined last month, we are currently using the Raspberry Pi 3 for our prototypes, representing the absolute minimum resources that could be used in a production device. Thousands of people in the Mycroft Community have been using these devices for years thanks to our Picroft image, however we intentionally created that image without any graphics stack. It is built on top of Raspbian Lite, meaning it doesn’t have a desktop environment, and this leaves us with more resources available for Mycroft. This clearly is not possible for the Mark II.

Qt GUI

We have been working with the folks at KDE to build a Mycroft GUI Framework based on Qt. Version 1.0 of this framework has now been officially released. This GUI is powerful and flexible. It can be used across any screen size for a variety of use cases – from watching youtube, to an integrated dashboard for your car.

We have been optimizing components across the system and seeing great improvements. 

Kivy

The focus on optimization has led us to explore potential light-weight alternatives, particularly for rapid-prototyping. The front-runner of these is the Kivy framework. This framework is what you have seen running in our most recent demo video, as well as this months demo: 

As you can see, the Kivy GUI is snappy and we have already completed first revisions of our six most popular skills. If we can make this graphics stack work well on a Pi3 it gives us more room to innovate on the faster production hardware.

Some work needs to be done on the enclosure code to allow these multiple solutions to coexist. Mycroft can run anywhere and we want to provide a framework that empowers creators to use the tool that best fits their use case. We hope to be sharing documentation on this with the community soon. 

We continue to make good progress with the technology and would like to thank you for your continued patience.