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Voice is coming to every device, every platform and every household globally. The technology is becoming a critical part of nearly every technology stack, and has a growing presence within the home as an AI assistant.
This calls for voice to be flexible, customizable, vendor neutral, and privacy focused; things that the proprietary voice assistants on the market today don’t offer.
Mycroft’s open platform differs from products like Alexa or Assistant in four important ways. Data privacy, customization, user agency and open data.
Privacy – Mycroft’s platform provides users with privacy by deleting queries in real time. User data is not mined, aggregated, processed or sold.
Customization – The agent can be customized by changing the wake word, voice and even the user experience.
User Agency – Mycroft is also the first assistant that embraces the concept of user agency–other voice assistants don’t represent users, they represent the companies that own them. Mycroft is different, it represents end users.
Open Data – Mycroft is publishing data from users who have decided to opt-in. This open data set is being used to improve wakeword spotting, speech to text transcription, natural language understanding and speech synthesis.
Mycroft is a full feature voice platform that can be deployed anywhere, or used in conjunction with our devices. Our next generation hardware device, Mark II is a wireless smart speaker that plays music, set timers, can access calendar events, search for general knowledge and has everything else the public has come to expect from a state-of-the-art voice assistant.
In the fall of 2015 we went to Kickstarter to see if there was a market for our idea. We raised $193,000 USD and turned Mycroft from a project into a company. We fulfilled all crowdfunding orders in July of 2017 – putting Mark I units in the hands of 1,500 backers. Between these two dates, we’ve progressed rapidly, growing our team from 9 to 20, and have watched voice transform from a niche technology into the next big thing.
Our first Kickstarter campaign sold an advance prototype, Mark I. Still an open source, open hardware voice assistant, it was targeted at the makers and hackers. Mark II is for all consumers, flexible, customizable, open, and privacy focused; something the current technologies don’t offer.
We learned a lot of lessons from the production of Mark I. Combined with feedback from our community and customers we decided we could do much better. It’s time for an upgrade.
Kickstarter is a great way to build community and estimate demand. Funds from the Kickstarter will help us to continue to democratize voice, build open data sets and advance the state of AI. With vendor relationships in place and a much more comprehensive picture of international shipping, tax structures, and regulation we are confident that the Mark II will ship by the end of the year.
Nate is responsible for the Marketing, Legal/HR, Finance/Accounting, Manufacturing, Customer Support, Community Relations, and General Operations Teams.
His passions come through in his work by keeping a customer service driven philosophy at the forefront of everything he does, from working with team members to helping build our community.
Steve notes “I'm thrilled every time I open the front door and Christopher (now a part of Mycroft) welcomes me home by name, turns lights on and reminds me of a upcoming meeting from my calendar.”
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Want a voice enabled speaker, but concerned with transparency and privacy? Mycroft provides the answer.
Palo Alto, CA, January 25, 2018 – Mycroft AI has announced the pending release of an open source equivalent to Amazon Echo and Google Home. The Mark II smart speaker is powered by the Mycroft intelligent assistant, an open source full feature voice platform.
The company’s latest device, Mark II, has been designed to provide an open alternative to Google Home or Amazon Echo. The Mark II is a consumer ready smart speaker with a built in screen, optional camera, and state of the art microphone array with noise cancellation and beamforming. These improvements to the Mark I improve wakeword spotting and allow user barge in.
Mycroft’s open platform differs from products like Alexa or Siri in four important ways. Data privacy, customization, user agency and open data. Mycroft’s platform provides users with privacy by deleting queries as they come in. The agent can also be customized by changing the wake word, voice and even the user experience. Mycroft is also the first assistant that embraces the concept of user agency–other voice assistants don’t represent users, they represent the companies that own them. Mycroft is different, it represents end users. Finally, Mycroft is using data from users who have opted in to publish an open data set that can be used to improve wakeword spotting, speech to text transcription, natural language understanding and speech synthesis.
The Mark II is also completely open. Open hardware, open software and open data. Any company interested in deploying voice enabled products can use the design as a baseline. Mycroft has already demonstrated its technology in a Jaguar F-Type sports car and is working with a number of major brands to deploy custom voice solutions.
“The Mark II will be a game changer,” says Mycroft CEO Joshua Montgomery, “deploying an intelligent personal assistant will no longer be a hundred million dollar proposition. Anyone with an internet connection will be able to have a custom voice agent and, importantly, they won’t have to give up their privacy to do it.”
Amazon sold an estimated 5.2 million Echo units in 2016, and the voice assistant was the best selling product across their e-commerce platform in 2017. Soon voice will be part of every platform, every device and every household globally. The market is expected to reach $25 billion by 2020, but it lacks an open, neutral, independent, and privacy-minded alternative.
“We see voice as an important part of every human machine interface going forward,” said founder Joshua Montgomery, “our job is to make sure that everyone has access to the technology. We are democratizing voice and creating a level playing field for industry.”
Founded in 2015, Mycroft is the open source answer to Siri or Alexa. Mycroft has strong relationships with the open source community and is rolling out across all of the major open operating systems in 2018. Mycroft’s has received financial investments from Jaguar Land Rover, 500 Startups, Techstars and Kickstarter backers in more than 56 countries and 38 states.
- CNN Tech
- Popular Science
- MIT Technology Review
- Jupiter Broadcasting
- Le Monde
- The Verge
- Tech Republic
- Android Marvel
- It’s FOSS
- CNX Software
- and 38 other publications HERE.
“I love what Mycroft is doing. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming a common component in our businesses, homes, and elsewhere, and with such a fundamental connection between people and technology, it is essential that the technology is as open and transparent as possible. Mycroft’s focus on community, transparency, and delivering simple and expandable AI is what we need to ensure the AI revolution is in good hands.” – Jono Bacon, Author, Consultant, and Leader in Community Strategy and Open Source
“Voice is the next frontier for user interfaces and artificial intelligence. Mycroft is the open source solution to voice and I am excited to see theMycroft team propel this journey to the next level.” – Lesa Mitchell, Managing Director Techstars
“Mycroft is a super platform for Makers interested in exploring and using Voice. It is open source and well supported by the company and community of users with quick answers on the forum. The underlying language of skills is Python, so if you can write it in Python, you can use it on Mycroft and very importantly there are already large number of skills available to learn from” – Greg Voronin, Community Developer and Maker
“Unlike some technologies where correct and incorrect is easy to define, Artificial Intelligence has to deal with fuzzy lines. Shaping these AI entities to serve the world should be managed in an open way where it can be researched and understood by all.” – Steve Penrod, Mycroft AI CTO