The right Mycroft is an open-source AI speech-enabled personal assistant. That’s a mouthful, but it’s synonymous with one more familiar word: Alexa. Or maybe you prefer Siri. Or Cortana. Or Hey Google, even though that’s two words.
It’s an ambitious project, going up against giants like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. But like all good open-source projects, they’re giving it a genuine, honest try.
And the key selling point is… privacy and transparency. They don’t have anything to sell you, so they don’t record them for marketing purposes. The code for all the skills is freely available, so you can inspect it, change it, improve it.
And yeah, it already exists. It’s not just a dream project. Admittedly, the Mark I unit looked a little too cutesy:
But they’ve already raised over $425,000 on IndiGogo for the creation of the Mark II speaker unit, which looks a lot more professional, and more in line with what’s on the market right now:
It can still do smiley faces and whatnot, but it looks a lot more like the rest of the smart-speaker units out there. And again, it’s all open-source, even the hardware. They’ll sell you a development kit that’s just the screen and the guts and let you create your own enclosure. 3D printing interest anyone?
There’s also a prototype desktop widget for your KDE Linux desktop. You can say, “Hey Mycroft” and it perks up and performs a Wikipedia search, gets the weather, etc. Well, it’s supposed to. I’m still in the process of getting it to work. The first hurdle was getting my laptop’s microphone enabled, but that’s not really Mycroft’s fault. The documentation for running this on your computer is a little sparse, at least for this desktop widget. And it’s got a few bugs, like displaying the weather in degrees Kelvin:
I think this has the potential to be a very cool project. I’ve already submitted a bit of code to it, a simple script to help install some of the needed software. But it’s still something. We’ll see if they accept it. Likewise, I’m going to see if I can find the degrees-Kelvin glitch and patch it. It’s the least I can do, considering I submitted a bug report featuring Joe Strummer.
I don’t have it working right just yet. Every time I try to speak to it, it thinks I’m saying “pair my device”. Hmm.
But it’s another cool project to experiment with; something new to try.
And isn’t that what it’s all about, in the end?