Smart Speakers the likes of Amazon’s
Reading the trends for a more open approach toward voice user interfaces, and the rising need for consumer privacy, a startup by the name of Mycroft has emerged on the scene as a formidable alternative to its bigger peers. The company has developed the world’s first open source voice AI platform and has attracted developers around the globe and millions of dollars in institutional support.
After raising $2.5 million in initial rounds, the company is now opening up investment to the general population through StartEngine with a rare opportunity to participate at an early stage with as little as $250 for a stake of the quickly growing tech firm.
Visit https://www.startengine.com/mycroft-ai to learn more about the company’s offering on StartEngine.
What is Mycroft?
At its core, Mycroft’s award-winning technology is an open source, open hardware product built upon the popular Raspberry Pi, which means anyone can contribute new features, develop modules, change or even redistribute Mycroft software. As with any open source technology, modifications and additions are delivered back to the community, contributing to a never-ending ecosphere of technological advancement. While Mycroft is primarily focused on software, it does also have its own devices including the Mark I and Mark II, which rival other countertop devices.
While it may seem on the surface that an upstart can’t possibly compete with the manpower and financial resources of a tech behemoth like Amazon or Google, by leveraging an open source dynamic, the company benefits from a boundless amount of innovative developers, programmers and even hackers across the globe working to constantly tear apart and improve the functionality of Mycroft’s platform. Overseeing this work is a Mycroft team that includes former executives and employees from Autodesk
While Mycroft is the first open source voice AI technology, the company is following a proven playbook that has spearheaded a paradigm shift in technology in the past. Consider open source platforms like WordPress, Mozilla (developed by Netscape, a unit of Verizon
Appropriately, Mozilla is a Mycroft partner, along with KDE and Ubuntu.
The Mycroft business model is two-pronged, providing a private model alternative to Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Assistant for consumers, and another for enterprise needs. The technology is already in use in tens of thousands of applications worldwide. Customers today are general consumers, but large enterprises like Cisco
To that end, in less than three years from its inception in 2015, Mycroft saw sales rise 400% from 2016 to 2017 to about $300,000. In 2018, booked sales are already at $500,000 and projected to reach $1.5 million, with estimates for $8.0 million in sales in 2019.
Privacy By Design
The genesis of voice assistants has allowed big tech into every aspect of people’s lives, and recent developments of personal privacy breaches have raised the alarm bells as to just how vulnerable people may be as a result. The fact is that the devices and their data capture go straight from a home to the inner sanctum at the respective tech firms to do with it what they may.
They’re far from perfect, too; just ask the Portland, Oregon couple who in May had a private conversation recorded by an Amazon Echo and sent to a person in the husband’s contact list. Amazon apologized, calling it an “extremely rare occurrence” that it was taking steps to ensure doesn’t happen again. Still, it is up to Amazon to make the change and consumers to believe it is fixed.
Regulators are recognizing the need for change in an ever-digitized world. The European Union is looking to take away some of the black box mentality of data use by big tech. In May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was approved to crack down on how data-handlers manage and use personal information, giving citizens back some control over their private data.
“Privacy by design” aptly describes the ethos at Mycroft. In its simplest sense, it gives everyone an opportunity to use and develop a voice AI technology that in function parallels that of the Echo and other similar devices while retaining ultimate control of the data generated through use, whether via a desktop, computer, vehicle, mobile device, etc.
Moreover, open source has a particular security dynamic built in that allows users to trust and verify every component. Plus, the diversity of having people worldwide of different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds and sexes provides for a creative think tank that parallels that of tech majors, resulting in a robust and safe product.
Booming Smart Speaker Sales Just the Beginning
Analysts at research firm Canalys forecast that global smart speaker sales will surge to 56.3 million in 2018 from 33 million in 2017. The industry is ripe for competition, as Amazon and Google dominated the market, accounting for more than 30 million units sold last year. With about a 68% share, the U.S. is the far-and-away leader, followed by China at a distant second with just under 8%.
That said, we’re only beginning to see the emergence of voice AI. Today, it is helpful for sure, but not much more than parlor tricks compared to where it will be in the future when it will be the cornerstone of job safety and performance in addition to a litany of other commercial, industrial, government and consumer applications.
Voice AI is extremely challenging to develop, explaining why there are limited companies pursuing advancing the technology outside of those with valuations into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
Mycroft, however, is undaunted by the industry goliaths, embracing its leadership position in open source voice AI with a responsibility to push innovation as it looks to carve its name alongside WordPress, Linux, MySQL and others that have built great value by becoming industry standards.
To learn more information about Mycroft, visit the company’s website at https://mycroft.ai/, and visit https://www.startengine.com/mycroft-ai to learn more about the company’s offering on StartEngine.
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