AI tech startup Humane has been teasing its “Ai Pin” for quite some time, whipping up expectations to a frenzy. Now, the eagerly-awaited device is set to be officially launched and fully unveiled on Nov. 9.
The San Francisco-based company refrained from sharing too much information about its first gadget (strategic ambiguity is a reasonable marketing technique for a startup making big promises), but some specific details are starting to emerge.
Humane’s novel pin caught attention at the Paris Fashion Week earlier this month when popular model Noami Campbell and other models showcased the device, which was attached to the lapels of blazers, jackets, and trouser pockets.
Here is what we know about the Ai Pin so far.
Our first device, the Humane Ai Pin, made its debut on the runway last week as part of a collaboration with Paris-based fashion house Coperni at their 2024 Spring Summer show at Paris Fashion Week.
The Humane Ai Pin is an intelligent clothing-based wearable built from the ground… pic.twitter.com/eUybKS1c1W
— Humane (@Humane) October 5, 2023
Who owns Humane?
Humane was founded five years ago by husband and wife, Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, both former senior executives at Apple. Chaudhri, a designer, spent over 22 years at Apple and is credited with inventing the “user interface and interactions on the iPhone.”
He was also involved in the creation of several products, like the Apple Watch, Macintosh, iPod, and iPad. As director of software engineering, Bongiorno led software project management for iOS and macOS and also played a role in the launch of the original iPad.
According to the company’s website, the two founders’ mission is to create technology that “improves the human experience” and can “put us back in touch with others, each other, and the world around us.” Humane’s guiding principle is that “we all deserve more from tech.”
What is the Ai Pin?
Ai Pin is a small, lightweight device that you can wear. It doesn’t have a screen and has been described as a standalone device, meaning it does not need to be paired with a smartphone.
The gadget uses artificial intelligence to sense (it has input sensors) and respond to the environment around it, helping it to answer user questions, answer phone calls, and send texts. Because Ai Pin is screenless, it primarily uses voice to perform the different tasks.
Ai Pin is powered by a combination of Humane’s own software—an advanced Snapdragon platform from Qualcomm—and OpenAI’s GPT-4, which enables it to ‘translate languages in real-time and analyze the nutritional information of food items.’
Time recently reported the specifics of the Ai Pin and added it to its list of “Best Inventions of 2023.” The device is designed to be an AI personal assistant that can be carried everywhere and has a built-in camera, microphone, and speaker, just like any other smartphone.
But it does have a small projector that can be used to project images and text onto surfaces, even the hands of a user, for those keen on visuals. In April, Chaudhri demonstrated some of Ai Pin’s interactions and capabilities at the TED conference in Vancouver, Canada.
He took a call from his wife, Bethany, viewing a notification projected via laser against the palm of his hand. He prompted the device to generate a French translation of a sentence he spoke to it, which the device did in a voice that sounded eerily similar to Chaudhri’s.
The founder also asked Ai Pin for advice on where he might be able to buy his wife a befitting gift, and it responded with the name of a popular shopping district in the city. Chaudhri retained control of the AI assistant, declining some of its advice, and the gadget was okay with it.
‘Not a deepfake’
“[Ai Pin] interacts with the world the way you interact with the world. Hearing what you hear, seeing what you see, while being privacy-first and safe, and completely fading into the background of your life,” Chaudhri explained at the conference.
“This is not a deep fake. In fact, it’s deeply profound,” he said of the device’s translation of his voice into French.
“This is my AI giving me the ability to speak any language and you having a chance to hear me speak that language in my own emotion and my own voice.”
Humane first announced the name of its device in June but did not go into detail about how it works or what it can do exactly. The Time article revealed that the Ai Pin attaches magnetically to clothing, “providing convenience and ease of use.”
Ai Pin. Source: Humane/Time
As Chaudhri indicated, the device has a prominent privacy indicator called the “Trust Light” that turns on each time the pin’s camera, mic, or input sensors are active to make sure everyone around knows when it’s listening or recording.
At this stage, Ai Pin appears to be a device made for the top end of the market, even though there is no information about how much it will cost. In some quarters, it is already being viewed as the next big thing in the post-smartphone era.
However, while Time believes the pin is one of the best inventions of 2023, it is also worth noting that the publication’s co-chairs and owners, Marc and Lynne Benioff, are investors in Humane. The company also counts OpenAI’s Sam Altman as an investor.
The device comes as big tech firms like Google, Microsoft, and Meta rush to launch products they believe align with the changes that AI has brought to the nature of work and social life. Meta launched its Ray Ban glasses, and both Google and Microsoft are integrating AI into things such as Gmail, GoogleMaps and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Office.