On Jan. 25, 2018 Mycroft announced its Mycroft Mark II Kickstarter campaign. The Mycroft AI assistant is an open alternative to virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Its Mark II is a smart speaker powered by the Mycroft intelligent assistant which is open-source. Alternatively, you may create your own virtual assistant with Mycroft and a Raspberry Pi. But the Mark II is a consumer-ready smart speaker for use out of the box. Its predecessor, the Mark I, is one of the best Amazon Echo alternatives. Armed with a bevy of enhancements, the Mark II is poised to follow in its footsteps as an incredible intelligent assistant option.
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.”