This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Mycroft Mark II: The Open Voice Assistant
Mycroft Mark II: The Open Voice Assistant
The open answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. Mycroft brings you the power of voice while maintaining privacy and data independence.
The open answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. Mycroft brings you the power of voice while maintaining privacy and data independence. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Interact with technology and your connected devices in the most natural way – by speaking to them. Mark II is a hands-free smart speaker to get answers, play music, and handle all the little details in life, all by voice.
What sets Mark II apart? It’s open source. This means your personal data stays private, you can customize your experience, and Mycroft is a neutral player in the voice game, allowing you to be confident in your personal preference of apps and skills. More than this, the Mycroft platform is created by a community of innovators, keeping the technology honest and well-rounded.
An Open Voice Assistant For Everyone
AI and voice technology are too important to our collective future to remain the property of the Silicon Valley giants. The Mark II by Mycroft is the device challenging them. Driven by community development, it’s the only voice assistant that respects your privacy, is entirely transparent in how your data is processed, and is customizable. It’s the voice assistant for the people by the people, doing all the things you’ve come to expect from a voice assistant, but in a transparent and open way.
Our open software gives you certainty that your private spaces stay private. Unlike voice assistants from Big Tech, Mycroft doesn't mine your data, sell you products, or try to own your online life.
The Mark II Smart Speaker
The Mycroft Mark II is the next generation open smart speaker. It sounds better, hears better, and incorporates all of the lessons learned from the Mark I.
The Mark I was very much a device for makers and open source developers. The Mark II is a consumer-ready speaker designed for you and your family, whatever your level of technical expertise. But at the same time, it is open hardware and software for you developers, makers and hackers.
It has state of the art features like array microphones, beamforming, active noise cancellation, and a bright screen to display important information. It also sounds great, filling your room with vivid highs and deep lows.
With a new design, high quality screen, multi-microphone array, and high quality stereo speakers, the Mark II enhances any space. Expect an FCC and CE certified Mark II, a multi-country power adapter, and a quick start guide when the Mark II arrives.
Mark II features a sleek, friendly design that can be placed anywhere in your home. Showcase it or let it blend into its environment, it’s your choice. Mark II was built from all the feedback and community contributions since the launch of Mark I. With an increasingly smart stack behind it, the hardware got a massive overhaul.
Sometimes seeing is better than hearing. Wouldn’t you rather see the weekend forecast instead of listening to a string of 3 numbers in a row? The Mark II’s screen is designed to enhance the voice interaction with a simple and clean user interface. This is helpful for skills like timers, calendars, and weekly forecasts.
The Mark II will be able to hear you even when you’re across the room, or your music is turned all the way up. When you need perfection, you partner with the best; based in Silicon Valley, Aaware, is a leader in designing microphone arrays that eliminate interfering noise and preserve speech with little to no distortion.
The microphone system consists of an array of 6 individual microphones that when combined with Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Noise Reduction and Beamforming are able to isolate the speaker even in a noisy environment.
Beamforming takes the input from the 6 microphones and locates the direction from which the user is speaking, giving it superior listening ability.
The upgraded speaker makes your music, podcasts, and everything in between sound great. Mark II users can expect crisp, encompassing sound. To achieve this, we are using a 10-watt speaker design with dual two-inch full-range drivers. To improve the performance of the drivers, we are using a ported and dampened sound chamber.
The Mycroft community has built more than 140 skills with no end in sight. Skills include everything from creating shopping lists, to playing music, to telling jokes. Mark II users can discover skills by asking “what’s new today”, or through our weekly updates to the community, or website.
A key differentiator for Mycroft is that the skill list is infinitely growing, thanks to our robust developer community. They’re building skills that serve everyone’s needs; not just for the corporation behind them. In addition to standard skills like weather updates, timers, and music, you’ll find ones like:
Community-contributed skills are a key part of the Mycroft stack and we’re proud to have hundreds of developers working to submit new skills and updates virtually every day.
For Developers and Makers
We didn’t leave our developers and makers behind. The Mark II has special features that make hacking and customizing easy, not to mention thorough documentation and a community to lean on when building. Support for our community is central to the Mycroft mission.
The Mark II will have:
- Full sized USB port allows transfer of files and I/O
- Accessible SD Card slot allows for easy update of software
- Xilinx quad-core processor
- Far-field 6-microphone array
- Hardware AEC, beamforming and noise reduction
- Stereo sound with dual 2" drivers (10W)
- 4" IPS LCD touchscreen
- USB Type A
- MicroSD card slot
- Bluetooth in
- 3.5mm audio out
- 18W power supply with international adapters
What You Get
FCC and CE certification: The Mark II will be FCC and CE certified; meaning it’s safe for consumers and won’t run into issues in customs.
Power adapter country compatibility: Using Mark II outside the US? The power adapter is international, working for the US, EU, UK, as well as AU.
Languages: What language does Mycroft speak? Right now it’s English. But our community has been steadily working on Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German.
Shipping Details: Shipping price is calculated when you select the reward. We’ve contracted with EasyPost to ensure that shipping is streamlined. From accurate calculations, door to door tracking across the globe, and their customs pre-approval process, your Mark II will arrive without a hitch. Just a reminder, some foreign countries require duties and taxes that can't be pre-paid.
Design is a product of research and non-stop iteration. We’ve gathered feedback from our current users, interviewed voice assistant owners, and created hundreds of concepts. With the assistance of the community, we’re building an open device for everyone. Thank you to all our members contributing their time, recommendations, and their testing to make this happen!
We realized one of the most critical pieces of a hardware project is to partner with the right teams and the right expertise. We are excited to have great partners to help us bring Mark II to life. We’re working with a premier engineering group, Aaware, to bring their specialized knowledge in microphone and audio technology expertise to the engineering of Mark II.
During the development of Mark I, we built relationships with manufacturers across the globe. This experience taught us the difference between good and great manufacturers, and how to spot the difference early on. For the Mark II, we are utilizing the top tier component supplier Avnet, to ensure our components are the best fit for our design, and leveraging their partnerships to qualify the EMS before production begins.
One of the biggest challenges in any product launch is the shipping and logistics, and trust us, we learned a tremendous amount through our first campaign. We are excited to announce EasyPost as the official partner of Mycroft AI on our Kickstarter campaign. Not only do they provide door-to-door tracking on all shipments, including international, they are actually saving the backers almost 20% on typical shipping costs. We are passing that directly to you!
The Mycroft community is using machine and deep learning to build an assistant that improves over time and learns how to better serve you. We're incorporating ML into every step of the user interaction from wake word processing to speech synthesis. And it’s all being open sourced.
The data being used is generated by Mycroft users who have explicitly opted in to share their data to our open data set. Unless users explicitly opt-in, we delete data as soon as the interaction is completed. We are using machine learning in many different ways:
Wake Word Spotting: The Precise library listens to the environment and ignores everything but the wake word. Our default wake word is “Hey Mycroft”, but users can customize it to fit their needs. “Hey Pedro”, “Victoria”, and “Jarvis” are all popular community wake words.
Speech-to-Text: For users who opt-in, we capture commands and make them available to improve the DeepSpeech STT software. We will move to DeepSpeech as our primary STT engine on March 31, 2018.
Intents and Skills: Our Adapt and Padatious libraries use both known entity rules and machine learning to determine what the user wants to do.
Text-to-Speech: Our TTS synthesizer, Mimic, uses parametrics to synthesize voice. We are replacing it in the next couple of months with Mimic II, which uses machine learning and sounds significantly more human-like than other open source libraries.
Voice assistants from Big Tech know a lot about you. They know when you get home, how many people are in the house, what type of pets you have, and what your calendar looks like. Here at Mycroft, we’ve got the only voice assistant that respects your privacy. We don’t capture information about you, your family or your pets.
We don’t store voice data: Other voice assistants on the market store every voice snippet they hear. At Mycroft, we delete the recordings as they come in, unless you actively choose to share your data by opting into our open data set.
We don’t create targeted ads based on your interactions: The difference between us and the Big Tech Giants is our business model. We want to provide voice services to our members, the others have business plans around targeting you with advertisements or selling you goods and services. We don’t create ads or sell your data to anyone who does. Our software is open so anyone can inspect the code and see exactly what we are doing with user data. This transparency ensures good behavior and creates trust between Mycroft the company and Mycroft the community.
Create a voice assistant that suits you. From its name to its voice, to its personality, we are creating tools that allow you to create an agent that represents you.
Personality: An anonymous black cylinder no more; Mycroft has a relatable, easy to interact with personality. To customize your Mark II, you can choose different home screen options such as weather and time widgets, or several friendly robot faces.
Custom voices: You can choose the voice of your Mycroft, currently we support American Female and British Male voices with more coming soon.
Custom wake words: You can further customize your Mark II by choosing between the wake words, Hey Mycroft, Hey Trinity, Hey Victoria, Hey Indigo with more coming soon.
Open Source Wins
The Switzerland of voice assistants; a neutral player in the tech ecosystem wars. We're not connected to any services. The recent media streaming/e-commerce feud between Amazon and Google left consumers out in the cold. With Mycroft, you never have to worry about the giants fighting over rights, we are a neutral player in the game allowing you to use what you want. We’re the Switzerland of voice assistants, allowing users to choose the best application for their need; we have no strategic reason to funnel users into any brand’s service.
Open code for anyone to contribute. You already know that being open source makes Mycroft customizable and transparent, but did you know open software breeds diversity? Building an AI that anyone can contribute to means making technology that is more representative of the world we live in today, a technology that is equitable, neutral, forward thinking.
When we launched our Kickstarter in 2015, smart speakers were so new that most people had never heard of one. Fast forward two years and nearly 20 million households have a voice-activated speaker.
During that time, we've made huge progress in partnership with a passionate community of open source enthusiasts. Mycroft is running on laptops, speakers, and even automobiles. Our community has built more than 130 custom skills that do everything from locating the International Space Station to singing "Raindrops and Kittens."
We went from a team of six to a team of seventeen and have now shipped the Mark I to 56 countries and 38 US states. We are well on our way to achieving our goal: an artificial intelligence that runs anywhere and interacts exactly like a person.
Along the way, we learned a lot of lessons about manufacturing time frames, vendor relationships, fundraising, customer service and design (read more on what we learned, and how we’re navigating those challenges this go round in the FAQ section). The feedback from those lessons is central to the Mark II.
We are so excited to be covered by a diverse array of publications and support from our corporate partners. Here are just a few.
Mark II Demo
This project is promoted by Jellop, a direct response online advertising agency specializing in Kickstarter campaigns on Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.
Risks and challenges
With any hardware project there are things that we cannot know for certain. Parts can fluctuate in price or become difficult to source. Unforeseen issues could arise during the manufacturing, and final testing that may require more time or redesigns. Since we have been here before, we are doing our best to account for these circumstances in our timeline.
Although we have one successful Kickstarter project under our belts, and we learned a tremendous amount about the process and expectations, there are always risks with building a product. Especially hardware.
Here are some risks, and how we are mitigating them:
1. Electronics Design: Electrical Engineering and PCB design is never a seamless transition from idea to final product. We started this process back in August of 2017 and partnered with some great companies to help us navigate the electronic component obsoletion and scarcity. We have tier 1 components with backup components for this, but if you know anything about the electronic component game, you know that lead times can go from 2 weeks to 26 weeks overnight. We have filled out intent to purchase with the major components to ensure that stock is reserved for our Mark II.
2. Manufacturing: In our first campaign we picked a manufacturer that gave us all the right answers, but couldn't deliver a quality product on time. We went back and forth with them to rework their boards four times. This created a longer than anticipated delays in shipping. This time around, we are working closely with the Aaware and Avnet to qualify and test the final assembly manufacturers.
3. Shipping and Logistics: This is one of the biggest challenges for our first campaign due to inexperience with international shipping. For the Mark II, we are partnering with an amazing 3PL to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to shipping and customs clearance. Over 80% of the shipments are expected to clear customs before they land in the destination country, by filing all the correct paperwork regarding CE and FCC regulations. Please note that VAT and other country-specific taxes are not able to be pre-paid. These taxes, if applicable, will be ones that the destination country will reach out to the backers individually to resolve.
Rest assured that we have been thinking about all of the challenges we faced in our first campaign, consulted with other creators and industry experts, to come up with a well-prepared game plan for Mark II. Our goal is not to just sell you something, our goal is to have you enjoy the product, and help bring AI to everyone!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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