Humane’s Ai Pin: Will it revolutionize the smartphone industry or fail to make an impact?

Founded by former Apple employees, Humane aims to kill the smartphone industry with a pin that attaches to the t-shirt, to project images on its hand and respond to voice commands using artificial intelligence. After years of drooling over his project, he has just unveiled the Ai Pin, which is far from unanimously unanimous.

A small square clings to the chest. A touch press to trigger a voice assistant. A pico-projector to broadcast answers on one hand. A camera with artificial intelligence to understand what you are doing. All with mandatory paid services to make it work.

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Here is the Ai Pin, the first product from Humane, one of the most promising start-ups of recent years. Founded by former Apple employees, who dream of causing a revolution as important as that of the iPhone, Humane has been trying since its creation to find a concept capable of replacing the smartphone. One that will allow humans to become connected without having to hold a device.

In a 10 minute and 30 second video published on November 9, Humane finally unveiled the Ai Pin, after talking about its future revolution for years. The product is intriguing and makes you want to try it, but it doesn’t answer the main question: what is it for?

Does the Ai Pin meet any needs?

Paradoxically, the Ai Pin wants to connect and disconnect human beings. “He doesn’t do anything if you don’t ask him to”, explains its creator, who dreams of a world where people are less on their smartphones. The Ai Pin does not listen or film if it is not hit, making it a simple pin attached to the chest.

Natively connected to the T-Mobile network (which means that commercial agreements will be required for it to arrive abroad), the Ai Pin has 4 different interactions:

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  • THE to touchto ask it to do something (this is the main interaction. The Ai Pin is a kind of iPhone without a screen, with just Siri).
  • There voiceto place an order.
  • THE gesturesto select an action.
  • The screen projectedto display the time or a notification.
To talk to the Ai Pin, you have to touch it.
To talk to the Ai Pin, you have to touch it. // Source: Humane

The Ai Pin is, in a way, a Google Assistant speaker permanently stuck to the chest. Its owner can talk to it to listen (with a speaker) or read (with the projector) responses, but it does nothing else. It has an ultra-wide-angle camera to see the world, so it can answer contextual questions (Is it cooked enough? How many calories are in my dish? Where should I go?), but doesn’t does not allow access to applications available on iOS or Android (even music is limited to Tidal, which has formed a partnership with Humane). The Ai Pin wants to augment human instinct and kill the smartphone, even if it doesn’t do 10% of what it can do.

If you receive a message (paradoxically, the Ai Pin can see smartphone notifications), a light spot lights up on your chest. It’s up to you if you want to project it on your hand or if you prefer to ignore it.

Here, the Pin translates in real time what the interlocutors say.Here, the Pin translates in real time what the interlocutors say.
Among the uses put forward by Humane, the use of Ai Pin for real-time translation. Impressive, but any smartphone can do the same thing with an app. // Source: Humane

The Ai Pin is also capable of collecting health data or managing calls… The video projector is quite insignificant in daily use (especially since it must consume a lot of battery). Humane focuses mainly on the voice. A site then allows you to access your “memories”, even if the Ai Pin only saves things when you ask it to do so. The Ai Pin recharges in a box, similar to that of AirPods, but the brand says nothing about its estimated autonomy. There are accessories to make it more durable, which suggests that it will not last several days on a single charge.

$699 for Pin, $24 per month for AI

At $699, Humane’s smartphone killer doesn’t seem too expensive for a first-generation product, although its ability to truly replace the smartphone seems very low for now. However, you have to add $24 per month to benefit from connectivity, included services and AI (which seems partly managed by OpenAI). In short, over a year, an AI Pin costs almost $1,000, and even more after that. A fairly ambitious economic model, launched on November 16 in the United States (we can’t wait to read tests and have it ourselves, even if it will be unusable without the T-Mobile network in France).

The projection is impressive, but what will it look like in broad daylight? Is it easy to aim at your hand?The projection is impressive, but what will it look like in broad daylight? Is it easy to aim at your hand?
The projection is impressive, but what will it look like in broad daylight? Is it easy to aim at your hand? // Source: Humane

At first glance, the main drawback of the Ai Pin is that it does not respond to a problem. The iPhone was a revolution since it simplified many things in our daily lives, the Ai Pin only seems to have the desire to cause a revolution, without any technological breakthrough behind it. We wonder in particular if the projection on the hand is not likely to be uncomfortable, while purely vocal control has its limits.

Humane is also a victim of the explosion of ChatGPT, which has made generative AI more widely known and available on smartphones. The same announcement a year ago would undoubtedly have been more impressive. Today, a ChatGPT on an Apple Watch could strongly compete with it. 100,000 units of the Ai Pin will be produced at launch.

So, product used by billions of consumers or future flop? Answer in a few years (with first clues in a few days, with the first tests).


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