Mycroft (software)

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Mycroft logo.svg
Developer(s)Mycroft AI team
Written inPython
LicenseApache License[1]

Mycroft is a free and open-source software virtual assistant that uses a natural language user interface.[2][3][4] Its code was formerly copyleft, but is now under a permissive license.[1] It is named after a fictional computer from 1966 science fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.[5]


Inspiration for Mycroft came when Ryan Sipes and Joshua Montgomery were visiting a makerspace in Kansas City, MO, where they came across a simple and basic intelligent virtual assistant project. They were interested in the technology, but did not like its inflexibility.[6][7] Montgomery believes that the burgeoning industry of intelligent personal assistance poses privacy concerns for users and has promised that Mycroft will protect privacy through its open source machine learning platform.[8]

Mycroft AI, Inc., has won several awards including the prestigious Techweek's KC Launch competition in 2016.[9] They were part of the Sprint Accelerator 2016 class in Kansas City and joined 500 Startups Batch 20 in February 2017.[10][11] The company accepted a strategic investment from Jaguar Land Rover during this same time period.[12] The company had raised more than $2.5 million from institutional investors before they opted to offer shares of the company to the public through StartEngine, an equity crowdfunding platform.[13]


Mycroft voice stack[edit]

Mycroft provides free software for most parts of the voice stack.

Wake Word[edit]

Mycroft does Wake Word spotting, also called keyword spotting, through its Precise Wake Word engine.[14] Prior to Precise becoming the default Wake Word engine, Mycroft employed PocketSphinx. Instead of being based on phoneme recognition, Precise uses a trained recurrent neural network to distinguish between sounds which are, and which aren't Wake Words.

Speech to text[edit]

Mycroft is partnering with Mozilla's Common Voice Project to leverage their DeepSpeech speech to text software.[15]

Intent parsing[edit]

Mycroft uses an intent parser called Adapt to convert natural language into machine-readable data structures. Adapt undertakes intent parsing by matching specific keywords in an order within an utterance. They also have a parser, Padatious. Padatious, in contrast, uses example-based inference to determine intent.

Text to speech[edit]

For speech synthesis Mycroft uses Mimic, which is based on the Festival Lite speech synthesis system.[16]

Modular design and interoperability[edit]

Mycroft is designed to be modular, so users are able to change its components. For example, espeak can be used instead of Mimic.[17][18][19][20]


Prototype of the Mycroft Mark II voice assistant

The Mycroft project is also working on and selling smart speakers that run its software. All of its hardware is open-source, released under the CERN Open Hardware Licence.[21]

Its first hardware project was the Mark I, targeted primarily at developers. Its production was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which finished successfully. Units started shipping out in April 2016.[22]

Its most recent hardware project is the Mark II, intended for general usage, not just for developers. Unlike the Mark I, the Mark II is equipped with a screen, being able to relay information both visually as well as acoustically. As with the Mark I, the Mark II's production was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign, which wrapped up in February 2018, hitting almost 8 times its original goal. As of February 2021, the Mark II had not yet begun shipping to crowd-funders, though shipping of the Development Kit was imminent.[23]

Mycroft announced that a third hardware project, Mark III, will be offered through Kickstarter, and that an entire product line of Mark I, II, and III will be released to stores by November, 2019.[13]


Mycroft has undertaken several commercial collaborations. In May 2018, the company partnered with WorkAround, an impact sourcing provider who broker work opportunities for refugees, to undertake bulk machine learning training.[24] In October 2018, Mycroft collaborated with disease surveillance and forecasting company, SickWeather, to identify the frequency of coughing on public transport, funded by the City of Kansas City, Missouri.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Having the Right license is just as important as having a License". 28 June 2017.
  2. ^ Bhartiya, Swapnil (25 December 2015). "2015's most exciting Linux devices". CIO magazine. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  3. ^ Hunckler, Matt (25 July 2017). "5 Growing Artificial Intelligence Startups You Need to Know About". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ Hunckler, Matt (15 May 2017). "This Open-Source AI Voice Assistant Is Challenging Siri and Alexa for Market Superiority". Forbes. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Why Name it Mycroft?". 14 August 2015.
  6. ^ Harrington, Rebecca (1 January 2016). "Customize An Open-Source HAL For Your Home". Popular Science. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  7. ^ Bhartiya, Swapnil (17 January 2016). "Mycroft: Linux's Own AI". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  8. ^ Mycroft AI (2018-05-24), Mycroft StartEngine Equity Offering, retrieved 2018-07-08
  9. ^ "Alexa can you find me a better assistant? | Techweek". Techweek. 2017-09-11. Archived from the original on 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  10. ^ Fein, John (22 February 2016). "Announcing the 2016 Class of the Sprint Accelerator Powered by Techstars!". Techstars. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  11. ^ Lynley, Matthew (8 February 2017). "Here's the 20th batch of 500 Startups companies". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  12. ^ Burch, Bobby (27 February 2017). "Jaguar Land Rover invests in artificial intelligence startup Mycroft". Startland News. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Mycroft AI". StartEngine. Retrieved 2018-07-08.
  14. ^ "Precise Wake Word Engine". GitHub. 30 March 2020.
  15. ^ Smith, Katie. "Developing an Open Source Voice Assistant: Interview with Mycroft AI's Steve Penrod". All About Circuits. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  16. ^ Gold, Jon (7 January 2016). "Raspberry Pi-based home AI project open-sources key components". Network World. Archived from the original on 19 May 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  17. ^ Stahie, Silviu (7 January 2016). "Mycroft Releases Key AI Component as Open Source". Softpedia News. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  18. ^ MSV, Janakiram (20 August 2015). "Meet Mycroft, The Open Source Alternative To Amazon Echo". Forbes. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  19. ^ Stahie, Silviu (14 August 2015). "Mycroft Is an AI for Your Home Powered by Raspberry Pi 2 and Ubuntu Snappy". Softpedia News. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  20. ^ Crist, Ry (17 August 2015). "Meet Mycroft, an open-source smart-home AI platform". CNET. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 21 June 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Github: Mycroft Mark I hardware". GitHub. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  22. ^ Adair, Kris (4 April 2016). "Making a Mycroft & First Shipment". Mycroft blog. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  23. ^ Montgomery, Joshua (25 January 2018). "Mycroft Mark II: The Open Voice Assistant". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Using Precise to Help Refugees - Mycroft Partners with WorkAround". 14 May 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  25. ^ Bezner, Elyssa (18 October 2018). "Collaboration in the air: Cough detection sensors combine Sickweather, Mycroft tech". StartlandNews. Retrieved 24 October 2018.