In the famous detective stories, Mycroft was the name of Sherlock Holmes’ smarter brother. Now a group of engineers has developed a natural language processing-enabled personal assistant technology also called Mycroft that could provide a smarter, open-source alternative to popular systems like Siri or Alexa.
Mycroft software innovators working with Intel have developed a physical interface device for Mycroft that allows users to control it with voice commands, according to Intel. Such audio instructions can take the form of normal conversational verbiage, such as “Turn on Pandora.” The types of commands Mycroft can carry out are similar to popular products like Alexa, such as controlling smart-home functions, posting text on social media or setting reminders.
Like Alexa and Google Home, Mycroft also provides audio feedback, communicating with users in a voice with a pleasant English accent.
Mycroft’s physical interface device takes the form of a small box that resembles the disembodied head of a friendly robot. LED lights on the device approximate the features of a human face, complete with eyes and lips that mouth words spoken by Mycroft.
However, organizations are free to white-label the technology, customize it for their own purposes or extend its capabilities. This means Mycroft will be applicable for many uses, including automotive systems, consumer electronics products, medical devices and public kiosks, such as ATMs. Mycroft also runs on PCs.
Mycroft employs a natural language processing technology called the Adapt Intent Parser, an open-source software library for converting voice commands into machine readable data structures. The technology also generates a data structure that includes the intent, a match probability and a tagged list of entities.
Mycroft can run on a wide range of equipment, including hardware with limited processing horsepower allowing all types of developers to take advantage of its capabilities. For example, Mycroft is supported by the Raspberry Pi, a low-cost, small form factor computer originally developed for electronic-design students, but now employed a wide-ranging community that includes enterprise engineers.
Mycroft describes its technology as a type of “strong” artificial intelligence, with the potential to approach human-level cognitive capabilities. This contrasts with the narrow AI often applied to natural language processing and other cognitive tasks.
Mycroft believes its technology will be able to demonstrate acumen in natural language processing that’s approximate to a human by 2020, as reported by ZDNet.
However, with the major technical challenges facing companies attempting to develop such technology, it remains to be seen if cracking the case of strong AI will be elementary for Mycroft.
Tyler Schulze is vice president, strategy & development at Veritone. He serves as general manager for developer partnerships, cognitive engine ecosystem, and media ingestion for the Veritone Platform. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.