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Smartphones are maybe the most important invention of the past 30 years. But is the age of the smartphone already coming to an end?
Tech startup Humane, co-founded by former Apple employees Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, has kept most of its operations under wraps. For a while now, though, it’s been raising funds from investors to build the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) “integrated device and cloud services platform.” And now, that device has become a reality with the firm’s “AI Pin.” The name could use a little work.
“Ai Pin marks a new beginning for personal consumer technology, offering users the ability to take AI with them everywhere in an entirely new, conversational and screenless form factor,” Humane says.
The Ai Pin is a small, square, wearable device that’s enabled by your body language and voice and which uses lasers to show a display on your own hand when necessary. You control it with voice control, a camera, physical body gestures and a small built-in projector. It plays music, sends text messages, takes calls, answers questions using an AI digital assistant and more. You just pin it to whatever you’re wearing and tap it to turn it on. One of the appeals of the device is that it’s not always “on” or collecting data. It’s only supposed to be active when triggered by the user.
At a starting price of US$699, the pin is supposedly meant to replace the smartphone in your pocket. Or at least weaken its siren calls that keep you endlessly scrolling and staring at your screen. It’s on sale now but won’t ship until early 2024. To use it, you also need to buy a US$24 monthly subscription for unlimited calling, texting and AI interactions.
“It’s more of a pull than pushing content at you in the way iPhones do,” said Ken Kocienda, product engineering lead at Humane. Because of its lack of a digital interface and access to apps like TikTok or Instagram, the Ai Pin just might be able to curb a smartphone addiction.