tl;dr: Mycroft was on track for a successful launch of a privacy-respecting home assistant device but ultimately failed, despite delivering a limited number of devices to the earliest backers. This was due to a variety of issues, including some technical issues requiring hardware redesign, insufficient foresight of high injection molding costs, the global pandemic, etc… but most of all, they were caught in litigation by patent trolls.
So, what now?
A product like this may be in line with the ethos of Purism’s mission. After all, Mycroft was very transparent about their unwavering vision of privacy-respecting software. (I know, I know, the existing design leverages a Raspberry Pi 4 and that’s not FOSH, but that goes down the rabbit hole of a different conversation altogether.) Although Mycroft’s CEO has clearly indicated that the company is ceasing most operations, he did state in his email:
“For all these reasons, I am continuing to explore ways to continue Mycroft’s mission.”
I’m curious what the possibilities could be if Purism reaches out to Michael Lewis regarding a partnership with Mycroft and development of a “Librem Home” product. We could collectively create “skills” (small programs that tell a home assistant how to interpret/process certain language cues/questions/etc) in the existing Mycroft repositories which would add value to current Librem One capabilities. The R&D is already largely completed but there would need to be substantial investment with which to manufacture inventory.
I actually have a decent amount of experience in the stack they were using and I think we could pretty easily get it working on the phone itself. I noticed the keyboard doesn’t have speech recognition. Happy to help with that effort if anyone is interested. That is what I am doing professionally now(working on speech tools).
It was sad news, but I was also one of their early backers. I was pretty happy to have gotten one of those first devices. It is pretty cool.
One could run the full solution on the phone, or have a backend hook-up, especially nice if installable via .deb or flatpak. Would be handy to use via app interface, keyboard dictation, TTS reader (right click menu option, Firefox Reader View, Foliate eBook reader)
A key enabler for especially the former would be if there was a way in the PureOS store to move/install to microSD card, as 32 GB was way to small even in 2017, but especially now.
Nonprofit OpenVoiceOS team in partnership with Neon AI are continuing to work on two parallel, but complimentary forks of MyCroft. One of the key engineers from Mycroft is also now working again on Rhasspy, this time now in partnership with Nabu Casa (HomeAssistant), they plan on releasing a MyCroft II successor.