Looking at Mycroft for offline control of devices - some questions


#1

I’m considering buying a Mark I and have been reading the documentation and the forum but it’s a lot to process. Mainly I’m searching for an Alexa/Google Mini back-up. My internet cuts out regularly during construction season and my disabled husband has become very reliant on Alexa for music, tv, lights, air conditioner, etc. Some of them have physical remotes as backup but they are difficult for him to use.

I see from another thread that using a personal server might be possible but can the Mycroft Mark I recognize any kind of basic commands without cloud access? (By that I mean, a Mycroft set up to use the internet but with a small set of default voice commands when it isn’t available. Or is it an either or situation, where it’s either local or cloud?) If it could play music or control a wifi switch that would be incredibly useful. Another option could be a mobile hotspot - can the Mycroft switch to one as an alternative if normal internet access is not available? (Or does everything needs to be on the same network?)

If it can, then I suppose there are more questions about the best way to access local mp3/mp4 files. I’m open to buying new devices, though I do have a couple of older laptops that could be repurposed with a Linux install if that would be quicker to get up and running.

ETA: the Mark I has HDMI and usb ports - could I put music or videos on a flash drive and hook it up to the television?


#2

Hi Terry,

It’s good to hear how beneficial voice interaction has been for your husband. Mycroft can certainly play music locally, connect to other local media devices, and control a range of home automation systems either directly or through a service like HomeAssistant.

By default Mycroft listens for the wake word locally, but cannot perform broad speech recognition without access to the cloud as this requires significantly more computing resources. To do localised speech-to-text and text-to-speech would require a server or device with a decent GPU. You could then run an STT service like Mozilla’s DeepSpeech, and the built in Mimic1 TTS engine can perform the text-to-speech. Do you have hardware with a reasonable GPU that might be suitable?

Finding a broader solution for your internet may be easier and provide a better experience. Have you looked at 4G failover options for your internet? These are an additional monthly cost, but anytime the fixed line internet goes down your data is routed via the 4G connection.

The Mark 1’s HDMI output is not really intended to be used for a media centre either. You would probably be better off running something like Kodi. You can even buy these pre-configured from OSMC.


#3

I appreciate your response. I didn’t know 4G failover was even a thing, but looking at the options out there, it’s pretty pricey. I will have to dig into it further, to see if there is a more reasonable personal or DIY version. I’d probably rather put the money into new hardware for local than pay upwards of $100/+ a month - though if I could get it down to $50 or so, that would be okay.

Our recent computers are just laptops, mainly Thinkpads, though my husband uses a ThinkCentre all-in-one. I checked out some build it yourself gaming pc options and could see doing that for long term use. It would be nice not to be at the mercy of whatever features the big guys feel like adding or dropping. (Like when we had to buy a Google Mini after Amazon dropped text messaging from the Echo.)


#4

Wow, I wasn’t expecting $100/month either. In Australia there are $30/month options, but it also depends on how much data you will use. I’ve always been confused with the US, I’ve heard you have to pay more to tether your phone’s internet connection to your laptop? Given you’re already paying for the data, I can’t see how they can justify that!

If you do end up building your own rig, @baconator is very knowledgeable about hardware so would be worth hitting up for some advice.

Important to note that there is not yet a publicly available Mycroft Skill that allows text messaging. It has been done using Twilio but not yet something you can click and install.


#5

The rules on using your phone data as a hotspot have gotten better, but yeah, that’s one reason I used to have to root my phones.

I just ordered a Mycroft Mark I. I’m not expecting it to replicate the Alexa/Google functions and figure it will take me a while to get it set up but you have to start somewhere. :slight_smile:


#6

I just wanted to add a link I found in case anyone else should be interested in the whole 4G failover concept. The cost of a new modem and router is a lot less than a high end computer. I’m still going to keep an eye on the personal server thing - hopefully the computing requirements will come down enough to allow dabbling without a massive investment.