The state of IoT right now is a jumbled mess. A person living in a smart home needs to access all of their different smart devices through separate apps that do not always speak to each other. Our smart homes right now consist of smart devices but not necessarily a smart way to access all of them.
This is a well-documented gap in the market that a lot of companies are aware of and are trying to fill. Amazon with its Alexa AI, Apple through its HomeKit development platform and Siri and Google with the recently announced Google Home are all hoping that users will use their solutions to access all of their smart devices.
The problem with all of these solutions though is that they are restricted by various conditions imposed on them by their parent companies. Amazon is the only one that is actively trying to collaborate with a wide variety of third-party developers, but there is clearly a space for someone to develop an open source AI. This is exactly what Mycroft have done.
In fact, this startup has gone one better and developed an affordable device that is open hardware as well as being open software. It is based on the extremely popular Arduino controllers and a Raspberry Pi at the center of things.
These hardware components are already used extensively for an unimaginable number of applications and thus the open source community already knows how to extend this hardware much beyond what it was originally designed for.
Mycroft is envisioning its cute little alarm clock like hardware to be present in multiple or even all your rooms of the house. These hardware units will retail for about $129, which is in the ballpark of what one would expect to pay for such a device.
The device is expected to launch with 20 ‘modules’ allowing it to connect with services like YouTube, Pandora, NPR, Honeywell and others but the real beauty is that if users need a unique solution, they just build it.
Users can build, alter and redistribute the code used in Mycroft and submit to the community that will hopefully spring around the hardware. Mycroft has also included some pretty decent hardware under the hood for DIY geniuses to work with as their device will ship with a Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A7 processor and 1 GB of included RAM.
The software powering this device will be Snappy Core Ubuntu, the Adapt Intent Parser to allow natural language instructions to be understood and a speech to text engine.
The company is claiming that theirs is the first effort to truly bring AI into the hands of the people and see what they can do. It is an exciting idea and has the potential to mushroom into something much bigger.
Microsoft’s Kinect was used by the DIY community to come up with applications and solutions that Redmond was never able to imagine, Leap’s Motion Controller is being hacked for some truly incredible things and this is exactly the kind of ingenuity that Mycroft is hoping to bring to it’s AI platform.
The company ran a wildly successful Kickstarter and Indigogo campaign to raise the capital necessary for the first batch of hardware production and AI integration. If it can garner a large enough user base, Mycroft might emerge as the missing piece of the AI puzzle.