The last two weeks have been a flurry of activity around Mycroft HQ as we pushed forward with hardware production and software development and simultaneously competed in the LaunchKC startup competition. All of this ended in positive results, but none of it has been easy…
A few weeks ago I laid out the milestones leading to the delivery of units to our original backers. Let’s start with the bad news for this update: it will be approximately 8 weeks before we can start shipping. The good news is that number is firm, barring disaster. Here is what has been going on…
Checked off milestones:
1) Final circuitry design review and Bill of Materials.
2) Hand build a final board
4) Review final device BOM
You probably noticed that #3 is missing. Going from the injection mold’s cavity rough-in to the “first article” enclosures has been much slower than we anticipated. Zero Tolerance has been great working with us on the enclosure, there is just an art in getting the freshly injected plastic to cool without deforming and to stick to the proper side of the mold for the ejection pins to work. This all happens in a few seconds — which is amazing compared to the 18 hours it took for each 3D printed enclosure — but is a very precise operation and almost as much art as science. We are expecting the first articles to arrive in the mail at our office today or tomorrow.
Having those in house will finally allow us to hand assemble the very first device using all production pieces. This is the final sanity check before we start the real manufacturing run on the boards and the enclosures. One bit off by 1/10th of an inch could make for thousands of useless pieces, so we’ve been stuck in limbo for several weeks with our finger anxiously resting on the production trigger.
We’ve done what we can to line things up so subsequent steps can happen as quickly possible. I swear we aren’t all off doing other stuff and ignoring production. We are just trying to make the most of our time while we are waiting to the world of atoms to catch up with the rapidly moving world of information.
Thank you for your patience, look for more updates soon.
One of the things we could do while waiting on the production line was to ensure that the Mycroft organization can continue to operate for a long time. Mycroft is an open source project, but we believe it can best be moved forward with the backing of an associated full-time staff. So Mycroft AI, Inc. is also a scrappy startup.
Mycroft AI, Inc. applied for the LaunchKC competition that is part of Techweek in Kansas City. This competition provides grants, office space and mentorship to 10 companies to help them become established. So in the midst of over four hundred businesses ranging from radar cow trackers to advanced advertising trend analysis to personalized butler services, one oddball open source company applied. All of the other business were wonderful ideas and had lots of commercial potential. But an open source voice recognition platform and AI? Umm, how does that make money? How can you compete against large corporations in the technology sector? Can anything even do what you guys are talking about?
But guess what? They got it. Our vision of a freely available voice technology platform that can be brought into laptops, cars, smart homes, tea pots and shopping carts — whatever can have a microphone and speaker built into it — that vision made sense to them. A platform that behaves the same no matter what you are talking to, that understands who you are, where you are…that understands YOU. A platform that can be reviewed by community members and continuously updated to protect everyone’s privacy and security. A platform that supports commercial users AND keeps them on equal footing with independent developers. It all made sense.
So Mycroft AI, Inc. was selected by a panel of investors as one of the top 10 startups. With this blessing from the business community and their overwhelming support, we intend to create a strong and lasting organization to carry out the vision we have all built.
Speaking of making the most of our time, one of the important things about Mycroft is the phrase “AI for Everyone”. It intentionally has many interpretations, and one of the best meanings is that we want our technology to help people who previously couldn’t access technology. The Sonar GNU Linux project recently contacted us about making use of Mimic to provide the default voice for their accessible computing Linux distro. We are thrilled to be part of bringing a free computing platform to people who were previously shut out of the modern world!
Steve has been building cutting edge yet still highly usable technology for over 25 years, previously leading teams at Autodesk and the Rhythm Engineering. He now leads the development team at Mycroft as a partner and the CTO.