If you haven’t heard, smart homes are all the rage these days, with voice-activated speakers often at the center of them. But as concerns for privacy grow, devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home become harder sells for some. Enter Mycroft Mark II, a smart speaker packing a digital assistant with a knack for privacy.
The folks behind the Mycroft Mark II have been in the digital assistant game for some time, having released its open source AI back in 2017. Now Mycroft is applying the same privacy oriented design to its second generation smart speaker.
Packing a 6-microphone array, Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Noise Reduction and Beamforming alongside dual two-inch full-range drivers to achieve “room-filling sound”, Mycroft Mark II is centered around a 4-inch display. It’s form-factor is somewhat of a mix between the Apple HomePod and an Amazon Echo, with a mesh exterior being flanked by a plastic top and bottom.
Mycroft Mark II will also be launching with a fairly robust lineup of software partnerships. Most notably, platforms like Philips Hue, Twitter, Roku, Wink, NPR and Wikipedia are among the supported integrations, but others are in the pipeline. Additional hardware support includes the usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as microSD card slot and a 3.5mm audio port.
But what may be the biggest selling point is that it can offer all of this without overly collecting or exploiting a user’s data. Mycroft contends that none of the device’s interactions are stored for building profiles or targeting ads. And the data it does collect, is entirely opt-in, making it easier for owners to know just how much privacy they’re offering.
Just over a week after its launch on Kickstarter, Mycroft Mark II has already locked in over 4 times its original $50,000 fund goal. The company’s latest addition to its smart speaker lineup will be shipping at the end of the year in December. Mycroft launches at a variety of price points, with a DIY option on the low end of $99 and a camera-packed model at $179. But those just looking to pick up the standard model will only need to shell out $129.
Having already taken an in-depth look at Amazon’s screen-based Echo Spot, Mycroft Mark II’s form-factor and emphasis on privacy is an alluring one. At its relatively competitive sub-$130 price tag, the smart speaker may very well just be a hit so long as it can deliver on its lofty promises.
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