Humane, a startup based in San Francisco, founded by former Apple employees Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, has unveiled a new product called the Ai Pin.
Ai Pin is wearable device that acts as a mobile AI assistant. The device is worn like a lapel pin, and users interact with it through voice commands and gestures. The device doesn't have a screen but it can project text and images via laser onto a user's palm. The small clip uses voice commands with AI to answer questions, summarize your text messages, translate languages, and play music, as well as a camera that can look at things and tell you about them. laser display that can project into your hand can respond to hand gestures as well.
As someone who loves new tech, seeing a completely new type of device being announced is undeniably fascinating, However, when it comes to its practical utility, I'm a bit uncertain.
Things I like
I'm quite impressed with their design aesthetics and choices in both hardware and branding. It all feels exceptionally well-executed, giving everything a high-quality feel.
The AI Pin also introduces a unique approach to user interaction, primarily through manual activation. Unlike many modern devices that are always listening for a wake word, users need to actively engage with the AI Pin by tapping and dragging on its touchpad which is a good choice.
AI Pin also attempts to address privacy concerns with its “Trust Light” feature. This indicator light signals when the device is collecting data, ostensibly to inform both the user and those around them.
Things I don’t
The entire premise of the device, to offer a screen-free version of your phone, or to get you from using your phone less, is something that I cannot relate with. I value the versatility of my phone and its various functionalities and I am not looking to replace its usage. If the device were to complement my phone's capabilities similar to a Smartwatch, I might consider it. However, it appears that Humane explicitly markets this device as a phone replacement, which doesn't align with what I need.
Also, Humane promotes the concept of thinking and speaking aloud, but the idea of conversing with a voice-command device in public seems odd to me. I have no desire to engage with such a device in a public setting; it feels awkward and goes against social norms.
Another fundamental flaw with their design choice is relying on AI for primary interactions, particularly considering instances where LLMs confidently provide misinformation. What's concerning is that even in their launch video, we can witness instances of AI errors, indicating significant concerns about its reliability.
In the launch video, Humane’s co-founder Imran Chaudhri asks the Ai Pin about the next eclipse. It responded that it will be on April 8, 2024, and that the “best places to see it are Exmouth, Australia and East Timor”. But it was wrong. This solar eclipse will be visible across North America and and not Australia. In another instance, the pin said the almonds in Chaudhri’s hand contained fifteen grams of protein, but it was wrong by at least a factor of two.
And finally, the pricing with $699 upfront and an additional $24 per month subscription fee, the Ai Pin appears to be a steep investment. The pricing strategy seems illogical, especially considering that users wouldn't be replacing their phones with this gadget. Essentially, it means paying for both a phone and its cellular plan, on top of the $699 initial cost and the ongoing $24 monthly subscription for the Ai Pin.
In my perspective, the Ai Pin appears to be a solution in search of a problem. Its core concepts seem poorly conceived. While the technology might hold promise, this product seems unlikely to have a viable future. A modified Apple Watch could likely perform all the functions of the Ai Pin, potentially even more effectively given its screen and established product category. To me, the Ai Pin resembles the trajectory of Magic Leap rather than that of the groundbreaking iPhone.