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Friday, November 18, 2016

Mycroft is the artificial intelligence revolution we’ve been waiting for | Silicon Prairie News

Melanie Lucks, regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM inform, "We caught up with Joshua Montgomery, CEO of Mycroft, to talk about the success of their Kickstarter campaign last year, their big move, and where Mycroft is headed next."

The Mycroft team at the Launch KC event. 
Photo: courtesy of Mycroft.

Lawrence-based Mycroft, an open-source, open-hardware artificial intelligence platform, has recently expanded their offices to San Francisco and Kansas City, as well as closed a successful angel round.

AI for all 
While Mycroft has the ability to control a range of household IOT devices and is an affordable alternative to voice-based AI systems like Amazon Echo, the important thing to note about the product is that it is open source.

“We’re working to provide a platform that allows other companies to integrate the technology with their devices and software,” said Montgomery.

When the team was accepted into Techstars this year, Montgomery said that they were essentially building a device with an open platform behind it so that people could use the technology in a variety of different ways.

“One of the biggest things we learned in Techstars was that while AI technology exists with things like Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, there wasn’t much in the open source community,” said Montgomery. “We realized that we had that opportunity to build relationships and to create an open source AI solution.”

Montgomery added that their relationships with Cannonical, Ltd (makers of the popular Ubuntu operating system) will put Mycroft on millions of devices within the next 12 months.

AI for your brand 
The benefits of open source AI goes beyond a customizable IOT device. According to Montgomery, individual companies can use the technology to build a voice AI that carries their brand.

“For example, instead of programming Alexa in your thermostat, you can build your own AI with its own voice, behaviors and personality,” said Montgomery.

He said that even Photoshop programs or word processors could benefit from this technology because of the numerous menu options and functions tucked behind the user interface.

“Many times you can’t use the software to its fullest potential unless you’re an expert,” said Montgomery. “We’re now entering this era where computers speak the same language that humans speak. Going forward, if your computer system or IOT device doesn’t have a voice interface, you’re going to be left in the dust by companies that are deploying these technologies.”

AI for any device 
Montgomery said that so far the trend for AI has been for the general public to connect with the technology in a strict way that is outlined by the big players in the industry. He said that Mycroft hopes to add a new level of customization to AI.

“We’re breaking down those walls and democratizing it, so that event the smallest company can have access to this powerful technology,” said Montgomery.

GE First Build Future of Cooking Hackathon 

Montgomery added that the team recently built Mycroft into a cooktop for GE that allows the visually impaired to control the burner’s temperature and find recipes by using voice commands.

He said that the team is also working with automotive makers to deploy Mycroft as an in-vehicle AI.
“The real potential is that it brings that same type of technology like Siri out into the world and democratizes it,” said Montgomery. “So even a high school student doing a science project now has access to a customizable voice interface, and can do some of the things that a Silicon Valley company is developing for millions of dollars.”

Source: Silicon Prairie News and Mycroft A.I. Channel (YouTube)

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