Redesigning the Mark II part 1

Originally published at: Redesigning the Mark II part 1 - Mycroft

Redesigning the Mark II part 1

We told you about the engineering decisions we made developing the Mark II in previous posts but we have yet to reveal the new Industrial Design. If you saw or received the Dev Kit you know that major changes were required. If you hang out in our Mattermost Chat you likely saw some previews, but it’s about time we show off the new design in full.


We focused on simplicity from the beginning of the redesign process. To do that we concentrated on developing an effective and easily manufactured Mark II. We decided to use Raspberry Pi 4 and created a custom circuit board (PCB) to interface with the Pi that provides all of the audio interface (audio front end, mics, amplifier) and physical user interface (buttons, LEDs). The size of the Raspberry Pi and custom circuit board influenced the form factor. The combination of the PCB and the Pi is necessarily bigger than a single custom PCB seen in many products. Our previous designs were more curvilinear in nature, but we could not mimic that design with these new constraints . In every concept the curved forms made the design unnecessarily larger and created unused gaps.

Concept sketches of the Mark II in the early stages of development

We also made a drastic change by turning the screen orientation from portrait to landscape.. Since most screens in this size and price point are landscape the best option for an “off-the-shelf” product is a landscape design. Luckily,the UI for landscape has advantages for viewing photos and videos.

In the next post we will talk about design details and inspiration. So far the comments about the new design are mostly positive! “It looks like a little computer” or “reminds me of an old portable TV,” and you know what, we’re ok with that. We always use fun designs from the past and from popular media to influence Mycroft.

We know some of you will love the new direction right away while some may prefer the look of the original. Do us a favor and let it grow on you; we made all of the decisions with the goal of getting a Mark II in everyone’s hands as quickly as possible. As always, we appreciate and value your support.

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While I liked the idea of the novelty that a portrait screen could have provided, I’m also happy and totally fine with switching to landscape. I imagine it’s making things like building the sound chambers and utilizing the internal space a lot easier.
Excited to learn more! Keep it up y’all,

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I think you missed the mark (pun intended) with this design. I’m sorry, but I think it looks dated and outmoded before it ever gets made. In fact, At first I thought this might be a joke.

I applaud the effort. I really do, but this design along with the high price point…? I’ll be stunned if you sell 500 of them.

Perhaps you should have held a design competition? At the very least you should have polled your user base, having given them three or four design options.

For what it’s worth, given the limitations of the square form factor of the Pi4 you should have gone with a cube design using clear acrylic for each of the six sides. You could have built an internal chassis for the Pi4 and all your hardware, then wrapped it in black mesh metal, then wrapped it in the clear acrylic, leaving a ventilation gap between each of the six sides for cooling the hardware. you could have then used colored LED lights which lit each time you say a wake word, or when Mycroft answered.

If a touchscreen was desired you could have substituted one for one of the six acrylic panels. Asthetically this would have been much more visually appealing in my opinion. It would a welcome and sophisticated design element in any room.

I assume the purpose of the Mark II was to raise some limited capital so that research and marketing of the mimic3 tech could be furthered? I’m assuming that since Mycroft is a commercial venture that the mimic3 tech will actually be your saleable item…?

So it doesn’t make sense to put that tech in a retro looking device like your design for the Mark II where you will only sell maybe 500 at $189 each.

You’d do so much better building the design I suggested or even offering it as a DIY kit for $69 each without a screen and maybe $129 or so with screen. If the price point were low enough you’d sell thousands of them.

It’s not too late for this. I’d poll your users and pull the plug on the Mark II design, then offer your users what they will pay for! But seriously, good luck with the Mark II anyway!