You wake up one day, and instead of noses buried in 4K, OLED smartphone displays, you just hear the gentle chirps emanating from inconspicuous, blinking devices fastened to people’s chests. That’s the future envisioned by a pioneering startup named Humane.
Named the Ai Pin – this device is touted as the world’s first artificially intelligent device. It boasts a range of control options — voice commands, touchpad interactions, and even a laser display projected onto the palm.
Instantaneously, this virtual assistant can perform tasks like sending texts, playing music, capturing photos, making calls, or translating conversations on the fly. Its prowess extends beyond mainstream voice-activated systems like Siri or Alexa; it can engage in nuanced conversations, edit dictated messages seamlessly, and all packaged in a subtle wearable gadget.
Humane AI Pin, But why?
Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and an investor in Humane, acknowledges the challenges, emphasising that success lies in customers’ hands. He states, “Maybe it’s a bridge too far, or maybe people are like, ‘This is much better than my phone.'”
The story of Humane is as intriguing as its product. Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, both former Apple employees, were guided to Humane by a Buddhist monk named Brother Spirit.
Their shared vision, presented to Salesforce founder Marc Benioff in 2018, centred on creating the Ai Pin device that could rival the iPhone in utility without fostering addictive behaviours.
And these behaviours (and effects) are well-documented.
Convincing die-hard users
As Humane prepares to ship around 100,000 pins at $699 each and a $24 monthly subscription, there’s a noticeable tension in the air.
The tech graveyard is littered with failed wearables.
To adopt the Ai Pin, users must embrace a new operating system, Cosmos, and be open to acquiring a new phone number for the device, which comes with its own mobile plan.
If anything, the Humane team is set on refining the details. The team carefully evaluates the device’s rings and beeps, particularly the “personic” speaker, which is crucial for verbal and audio cues. Of course, users can add any Bluetooth headphones to interact more subtly.
Humane enters the market at a time when the debate around artificial intelligence’s potential risks and benefits is reaching new heights. Despite its development’s secrecy, investors have valued the company at $850 million, reflecting a widespread eagerness to support AI ventures.
The company emphasises trust and transparency, introducing features like a “trust light” to indicate when the device is recording and an assurance that user data is not sold or used for AI model training.
What do the techies think
Of course, scepticism is the word of the day here. But that was true for most big tech innovations in the past ~30 years. Humans fear change – especially radical change.
So, predicting how the market will react to the Ai Pin is hard. It will definitely be hit by a wave of negativity – both from tech industry players, as well as non-techies. Big players financially back it, including Microsoft, Tiger Global, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
But is the world of tech ready for it? And is it ready for consumers?
According to the company, patience is key, as certain features, such as object recognition and videos, will be phased in over time, and occasional bugs have surfaced during demos.
“While there are some undoubtedly novel new features in its interfaces, I think ‘AI hardware’ may turn out to be a dead end,” says Casey Newton, founder of tech blog Platformer, who said he’d tried Humane’s Ai pin, wrote on X.
Personally, I’d love to see a world move away from constant screen time. If I can interact with my phone without needing a screen, that would undoubtedly improve my mental health and real-life interactions.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org