Personal assistants like Alexa and Google Home are extremely popular right now, and interest is only growing. It’s not too hard to envision a near future where just about every home has its own AI assistant.
What if you don’t want a huge corporation having a direct line into your home? Maybe you want to build your own to understand how they work? Mycroft is the solution. Mycroft is an open-source AI assistant that aims to compete with the likes of Alexa and Google. No, Mycroft isn’t entirely there yet, but the project is still in active development.
Mycroft is based on the hugely popular Raspberry Pi, so you can actually set up your own with a Pi and test it out.
What You’ll Need
If you want to use all of Mycroft’s functionality, you’ll need a a few things for your setup.
- MicroSD card with Mycroft
- Raspberry Pi 3
- Micro USB power cable for the Pi
- USB speaker (or combo USB speaker/microphone)
- USB Microphone
Get the Image
Etcher is an excellent program for writing images to your MicroSD card. Head over to Etcher.io and install the version for your computer’s operating system. It has a fairly basic installer, so there’s not much to worry about. Just follow the provided instructions.
Create Your Card
Insert your MicroSD card into your computer’s reader and launch Etcher. The utility has a super simple interface. First, select the file that you want to write to your card. Then, select the location of your card on the computer. When you’re absolutely certain that both are correct, write to your card. It’ll take a few minutes, but Etcher will prompt you when it finishes.
Create a Mycroft Account
Mycroft has an accounts system so you can keep track of devices and get more accurate information. This is an open-source project, not an advertising platform. Before you put your Pi together, set up your account.
Set Up Your Pi
When the card is finished writing, remove it from your computer and insert it into the Raspberry Pi. Connect the speaker and microphone to the Pi. Finally, plug your Rasbperry Pi in. Mycroft will start up.
Boot and Try It
Mycroft will start up immediately and start talking to you. It will give you a six-digit code for you to link your device to your Mycroft account. It will also tell you exactly where to enter in your code.
Once your Mycroft is linked, it’ll run through some more setup by itself. After it’s done, you can start trying out the built-in commands that it has. Mycroft commands are called “Skills.” The list of skills is ever-growing, so refer to the reference on the project Github. There are community-created skills available, too, if you get bored.
That’s it! Remember that Mycroft is still under very active development, so some things might change, and there still may be bugs. If you like Mycroft, you can contribute to the project or even write your own skills.