Tag Archives: Artificial Intelligence

Mycroft is opening up artificial intelligence to everyone

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Once it has received a command, Mycroft connects to your home router through Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
  3. Mycroft sends the command or question to the cloud.
  4. The cloud sends the audio to two or more online APIs that translate speech to text (STT).
  5. The STT APIs respond with a text translation of the audio phrase.
  6. The Mycroft cloud compares the results and selects the best one based on past performance, response time and other factors.
  7. The text translation is sent to at least two artificial intelligence APIs.
  8. The artificial intelligence APIs respond with a data structure that translates the text into intents, objects, entities, contexts and other categories.
  9. The Mycroft cloud combines the data structure with the user’s profile information and sends the information back to the Mycroft unit.
  10. The Mycroft unit uses the data structure to select the appropriate action.
  11. 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.

Musio is an AI robot designed to learn, adapt and grow with you

Meet the Musio, an Arduino-compatible, artificially intelligent robot that evolves with you and makes your home smarter.

If it’s up to one California-based startup, the next member of your family won’t be a baby brother or sister, nor will it be a furry four-legged animal. Instead, the AKAStudy crew believes it may very well be an artificially intelligent robot that can engage and evolve with its users. In what would appear to be a mix between Joaquin Phoenix’s digital companion Samantha from Her and the iPhone’s knowledge navigator Siri, Musio is an AI personal assistant that is capable of holding natural conversations, sharing emotions, growing wiser with age and communicating with connected objects in its environment.


Musio is comprised of three different brains — simple, smart and genius — that vary in terms of complexity, memory, battery and speed. For instance, simple merely features a 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 16GB of memory, a 1800mAh battery, all while lacking any wireless functionality. Genius, on the other hand, boasts a 2.5GHz quad-core CPU, 64GB of memory, a 3000 mAh battery, an on-board AVR chip, as well as Wi-Fi, Buetooth Low Energy and ZigBee compatibility to control smart home gadgets.


The system itself is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop OS and built around the versatile ATmega328 MCU. Meaning, the Arduino-friendy device can be programmed to the liking of its owner through its accompanying Arduino and Android controller libraries. What’s more, Musio also comes with a developer kit add-on that includes an accelerometer, a trio of Arduino Mini boards, ZigBee modules and Arduino ZigBee shields.


Unlike other virtual personal assistants before its time, Musio can actually converse with its user — whether that’s offering up an appointment reminder, gossiping about a colleague at work, lending a helping hand during a homework assignment or asking a question to satisfy its curiosity. AKA’s mission was to devise a robot that not only thinks on its own, but ultimately creates an interactive learning environment for people. Moving ahead, the team hopes to further improve its built-in textual and vision intelligence, and integrate motion, in order to make it a truly holistic AI machine.

“AKA is using Musio to create an ecosystem which consists of Musio Friends, which also have built-in AI and sensor-technologies. Your artificially intelligent friend Musio wants to develop with you. This ecosystem will become possible not only with our developers’ efforts but yours as well.”


Ready for a robotic sibling or sidekick to help you out with your daily tasks? Then head over to its official Indiegogo page, where the AKAStudy is currently seeking $50,000. As if it were actually a baby brother or sister, it looks like you’ll have to wait a year before it arrives. Shipment is expected to begin in June 2016.

This robot wants to add AI to everyday household objects

Sure, robotic concepts are dime a dozen these days. The question is, however, how close are we to an era of ubiquitous multi-function droids? According to Flower Robotics, soon. The company is envisioning a future where everyday household items, such as lamps and plants, come to life and move freely about our homes. In an effort to lower the barriers for development and adoption of in-house robots, the Tokyo-based design studio recently launched its futuristic device, Patin.


Patin, which is a French word for “skate,” is an open-source platform equipped with an interface that connects service units on an autonomously movable body through artificial intelligence. The robot’s AI is capable of navigating areas through observation and making real-time decisions based on its environment. By mounting existing products on Patin, the team believes a new lifestyle can be created, one in which human movement is coordinated with concepts such as lighting and planting.


Need an extra hand to carry your groceries? A little more light? A reminder to water your plants? To turn up the tunes? Each of these tasks (and more) can be accomplished by the bot.


Unlike other task-specific gadgets, i.e. the iRobot Roomba, Patin is comprised of a mobile base with an upper deck to which you can attach different modules, meaning homeowners will only need one device and the necessary attachments for new functionalities, such as moving a lamp closer to an individual reading, caring for a plant in need of nutrients, or blasting tunes from nearby speakers.

At the moment, Flower Robotics is still working on the prototype which boasts a set of Omni wheels, and is controlled by NVIDIA’s Jetson TK1 CPU and an [Atmel basedArduino board. To navigate and detect nearby objects, the device is equipped with an assortment of cameras — including a depth-sensitive camera developed by ASUS — as well as several contact and proximity sensors.


Patin’s core structure is built around four parts: a main body, an application (the service unit), Pit (charging and communication unit) and a cloud. New functions can be added through a space perception sensor like a 3D camera, a Patin unit with AI autonomous function, and other service units with expandable functions. As its team notes, not only is it responsible for charging the main body, but the Pit unit transmits information to and from the cloud via Wi-Fi. The cloud then monitors and tracks the robot’s behavior and other pertinent information from each Patin, and distributes updated information accordingly.


Wait, it gets better. Patin will also include an Android-based SDK for developers, enabling them to design their own peripherals for the prototype. By providing third parties with technical support like SDK and simulators, designers and Makers alike will have the opportunity to partake in the its ongoing development. Embracing an open community model, individuals can contribute to and collaborate on the promotion and dissemination of this next-gen home robot, thereby lowering the its barrier of entry into the market.

“From now on, thirds parties will be able to develop their own ideas to build robots using our open source platform to provide platformatize tool based on open source idea, interface for service unit connection as an AI robot development platform for assuming the third parties will be joining service unit development.”

“For example, by teaming up with technology developers, manufacturers of existing products such as electrical appliances, furniture, and interior design could add a robotic element to their products,” the team writes.

Flower Robotics is currently working on its Atmel powered prototype and plans to commercialize Patin by 2016. Will you be welcoming one into your household?