Former Apple chief design officer Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are reportedly exploring opportunities for developing an AI hardware device.
It is not clear what the two are developing exactly and what purpose the device will serve, but The Information has reported that sources close to the two confirmed a significant AI project was in the making.
What could it be?
Speculations are that Altman meeting with Ive, the man who has shaped the iPhone “as we know it today,” could mean OpenAI may be looking at the possibility of developing a smartphone.
The two, who have been friends for a while, are said to have been holding discussions, trying to explore the possibilities of AI hardware. According to the report, Altman and Ive have been discussing “what hardware for the AI age could look like.”
According to The Verge, it is currently unclear if OpenAI will develop the hardware, whether a third party will be tasked with the responsibility, or if the duo will decide to proceed to build it.
A history of collaborations
This is not the first time that Altman has collaborated with staffers from Apple. He worked with Ive’s former colleagues on new products. Ive, who left Apple in 2019 after over 30 years with the company, had Thomas Meyerhoffer as his first hire at Apple. Meyerhoffer designed the AI-powered orb human eye scanner through an Altman-backed startup known as Tools for Humanity.
For Sam Altman to collaborate with Ive in this case is not surprising. Ive’s reputation precedes him. He has worked with Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs and later with Tim Cook to create some of the world’s biggest and most beloved products, for instance the iMac desktops, iPhone, and Apple Watch. According to The Verge, he has consulted on several projects since his departure from Apple.
One of the projects he has worked on includes a $60,000 turntable by audio equipment firm Linn. This is in addition to a logo for King Charles 111’s Astra Carta framework.
Since the launch of ChatGPT last November with immediate success, there has been a shift in investment focus within the tech industry towards generative AI as investors look for fresh opportunities.
Now, with a new project brewing, The Information reports Altman and Ive have the backing of Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. As head of one of the leading AI investors, Son could be a major supporter of the project, as he has reportedly been meeting with the two and involved in the early discussions.
SoftBank has already invested $140 billion into AI within the last 10 years, so their involvement in the project could mean a lot to the development of AI hardware.
OpenAI has been collaborating with some tech companies, including Microsoft, whose own chatbot, Bing, runs on OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4. Microsoft is integrating GPT technology into its products and services, like Office 365. Recently, the tech giant introduced Microsoft Copilot, which it dubbed “your everyday companion.”