We told you about the engineering decisions we made developing the Mark II in previous posts but we have yet to reveal the new Industrial Design. If you saw or received the Dev Kit you know that major changes were required. If you hang out in our Mattermost Chat you likely saw some previews, but it’s about time we show off the new design in full.
We focused on simplicity from the beginning of the redesign process. To do that we concentrated on developing an effective and easily manufactured Mark II. We decided to use Raspberry Pi 4 and created a custom circuit board (PCB) to interface with the Pi that provides all of the audio interface (audio front end, mics, amplifier) and physical user interface (buttons, LEDs). The size of the Raspberry Pi and custom circuit board influenced the form factor. The combination of the PCB and the Pi is necessarily bigger than a single custom PCB seen in many products. Our previous designs were more curvilinear in nature, but we could not mimic that design with these new constraints . In every concept the curved forms made the design unnecessarily larger and created unused gaps.
We also made a drastic change by turning the screen orientation from portrait to landscape.. Since most screens in this size and price point are landscape the best option for an “off-the-shelf” product is a landscape design. Luckily,the UI for landscape has advantages for viewing photos and videos.
In the next post we will talk about design details and inspiration. So far the comments about the new design are mostly positive! “It looks like a little computer” or “reminds me of an old portable TV,” and you know what, we’re ok with that. We always use fun designs from the past and from popular media to influence Mycroft.
We know some of you will love the new direction right away while some may prefer the look of the original. Do us a favor and let it grow on you; we made all of the decisions with the goal of getting a Mark II in everyone’s hands as quickly as possible. As always, we appreciate and value your support.
Mycroft Chief of Design