Mycroft is an open source alternative to Amazon Echo and Google Now.
No longer just something you see in sci-fi licks, artificial intelligence has arrived. From autonomous cars to household robots, it’s only a matter of time before it will be implemented everywhere and in everything. While larger corporations have been the ones lucky enough to have access to the technology, Mycroft is looking to change that.
The brainchild of Joshua Montgomery, Mycroft is the world’s first open source A.I. platform for the home. Based on Raspberry Pi 2 and Arduino, the system uses natural language processing to respond to your voice and make online services like Netflix, Pandora and Spotify instantly available to you. In other words, no more having to pull out your smartphone, enter log-in credentials, select a network, load an app and search for a feature.
With this nifty device, if you want to hear your favorite tunes before heading out for the night, all you’ll have to do is ask, “Mycroft, can you play ‘Baby Got Back’ from YouTube on my Chromecast?” and seconds later your video will begin to play.
As Montgomery points out, its capabilities extend well beyond streaming gadgets. In fact, Mycroft can emit music and sounds directly from its built-in, high-quality speaker. Just tell it to play your Pandora summer playlist for a day at the pool, then sit back, relax and enjoy the tunes.
Beyond that, Mycroft integrates with the smart devices in and around your house, including SmartThings, WeMo, Nest and Phillips Hue. This enables you to command your lights, thermostats and appliances with nothing more than your voice. If it’s connected to the Internet, Mycroft can control it. Turn on the lights? Yep! Lock the doors? Of course! Make your morning coffee? You betcha! Water the plants? Phew!
“Mycroft is an open source and open hardware platform. It allows developers, Makers and tinkerers to explore their own ideas. Want Mycroft to post to your Facebook account? Control a Roomba? Start your 3D printer? You can do it. Our community will include comprehensive documentation on the hardware inside Mycroft and the software that makes it go,” Montgomery explains.
The system works is as follows:
- Mycroft listens for its name. When an end user says “Mycroft, ” it listens for a command or question. If it doesn’t get one, it beeps softly to prompt you.
- Once it has received a command, Mycroft connects to your home router through Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
- Mycroft sends the command or question to the cloud.
- The cloud sends the audio to two or more online APIs that translate speech to text (STT).
- The STT APIs respond with a text translation of the audio phrase.
- The Mycroft cloud compares the results and selects the best one based on past performance, response time and other factors.
- The text translation is sent to at least two artificial intelligence APIs.
- The artificial intelligence APIs respond with a data structure that translates the text into intents, objects, entities, contexts and other categories.
- The Mycroft cloud combines the data structure with the user’s profile information and sends the information back to the Mycroft unit.
- The Mycroft unit uses the data structure to select the appropriate action.
- Mycroft performs the action.
In terms of hardware, Mycroft is equipped with a Raspberry Pi 2 at its heart, along with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, and an ATmega328 to power its Tron-like LED display. Not only Maker-friendly and affordable to all, the $129 unit uses a variety of open APIs to process language, determine intent and obtain results. On the software side, Mycroft is powered by the Snappy Ubuntu Core. This makes creating, distributing and installing new apps simple and easy. And since it is open source, developers will have the ability to add more features over time.
Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where Mycroft is currently seeking $99,000. Delivery is expected to get underway next year.