This blog post was written by Lead Designer Derick Schweppe
Joshua’s vision for Mycroft was to create a relatable and personable A.I. that people would welcome into their home. The physical design of Mycroft began to take shape after many brainstorming sessions with Joshua and feedback from the rest of the team. We looked at the current landscape of design but we also looked at fictional robots and A.I. from the past for inspiration. The simple shape is augmented with details to make it look like a friendly character without being too cartoonish
Some people have said that Mycroft looks somewhat like a clock radio and that was definitely an intentional decision. The clock radio is something people are familiar with, they know it can live on a bed side table, a shelf, a countertop, etc.. This makes it easy for people to adapt to Mycroft because their is some familiarity with the form factor.
A lot of thought was also put into the fact that Mycroft is different than most products, it’s open hardware and based on the Raspberry Pi. Most products these days are sealed tight from the factory with adhesives and other fasteners not meant to be removed by the consumer. Mycroft is easily opened and the various connectors (GPIO, USB, etc..) are all accessible for modification. We also decided to give Mycroft a display for even more flexibility. Although we haven’t shown it yet, in the future we plan on using the display for timers, a clock, and other forms of visual feedback. Our decision to use an LED array for the display was partly driven by budget, but also by readability and by aesthetic. The LED array works nicely for animations that give Mycroft character and a bit of a retro charm.
Everything started with a sketch, as seen above in the early concept drawings for Mycroft.
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