Trend Alert: Mycroft AI

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

 

It’s estimated that 33 million smart speakers were sold worldwide in 2017, with analysts expecting that number to rise above 50 million this year. Currently, Amazon has a 65% market share, with Google the second major player at 18%, and Apple hoping to gain a slice of the pie with the new HomePod. These three digital giants not only stand to earn money from product sales, but enjoy many additional benefits when customers start to use these voice-activated devices.

Have you ever wondered why a product as futuristic as the Amazon Echo Dot can be purchased for less than £100? Using the same business model as the Kindle, Fire Stick and Fire tablets, these devices track user data and use that information to sell further items to the consumer. The strategy is a success. Echo owners spend around 10% more on Amazon after they purchase the speaker.

Smart speakers are useful, easy to use and affordable, but as awareness grows around data privacy and security issues, might we see a backlash against AI devices manufactured by ‘Big Tech’ companies? With this in mind, a US startup is offering an alternative. Mycroft AI is the world’s first open-source voice assistant, which doesn’t store data or create targeted ads based on user interactions. Not only that, but it’s just as affordable and high tech as any competitor product, and compatible with entertainment and information sources such as YouTube, NPR and Wikipedia.

The Kickstarter campaign for the company’s next project, Mycroft Mark II, proves there is demand for a voice-activated speaker that respects user data. It reached 100% funding in just 6.5 hours when it launched last month.

Currently the heaviest users of voice technology are Millennials, and over 35% of them are expected to use a virtual assistant this year. As such, AI will be one of the subjects covered in our Innovation Stream at YMS London 2018. Tech-savvy younger generations have a better understanding of how companies use their data, and ¾ of Gen Z worry about information companies collect on them. However, they still want technology to be efficient and useful. This suggests Mycroft could be a compelling option for the youth market.

 

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