What Is a Humane AI Pin to a Smartphone? A Niche Device at Best

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Few tech releases have attracted the type of interest that the Humane AI Pin did prior to its launch as a tool that could potentially replace the smartphone.

Humane’s desire to create a wearable that could “integrate AI into the fabric of daily life” and replace the smartphone captured over $240 million in VC funding, with notable investors including OpenAI, Microsoft, and Salesforce.

Unfortunately upon the Humane AI Pin’s release date on April 11, the device began experiencing one of the worst critical receptions for any consumer tech product released in the last decade.

With critics calling it “the worst product I’ve ever reviewed” and “the solution to none of technology’s problems,” its ambitions to replace the smartphone are over, at least for now.

But where did it all go so wrong? To understand this, we first need to break down what the Humane’s wearable AI device is all about.

Key Takeaways

  • The Humane AI Pin set out to reduce consumer reliance on screens with an AI-driven wearable device that could provide an alternative to the smartphone.
  • Critics have panned the release over its poor performance and high pricing.
  • Humane has released a roadmap to improve the product going forward.
  • The smartphone is here to stay.

What is Humane AI Pin & What Is It Capable of?

The Humane AI Pin is a wearable assistant that clips onto the user’s shirt or jacket and features a laser projector, touchpad, camera, built-in speaker system, rechargeable battery, 3D depth sensor, LED lights, and a microphone.

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It can be interacted with via touch or voice command. It has its own unique phone number and can connect to ChatGPT.

One of the most unique capabilities it offers is its “laser ink display,” which uses a laser to project text, graphics, and user interface elements into the palm of the user’s hand.

Humane's Laser Ink Display
Humane’s Laser Ink Display. Source: Humane

But what can you do with it?

It can answer questions, play music, take calls, send messages, and capture photos or videos. The problem is that it doesn’t prove that it can do these things better than a smartphone.

For instance, you can’t text on a Humane AI pin because there’s no screen. You also can’t load up an app like WhatsApp, Instagram, or TikTok, which immediately offers a much more limited experience. You also can’t set alarms or timers.

However, it’s not just these conceptual limitations that hold the Humane AI Pin back; it’s the execution.

The Humane AI Pin: Where Did It All Go So Wrong?

The Humane AI pin was an ambitious project from the beginning, seeking to eliminate the need for screens and introducing a new category of AI-powered wearables to the market.

Yet the product itself has some notable limitations at the moment, including poor battery life (5 hours, according to some reports), delays responding to user questions, poor visibility of the laser ink display, and overheating.

Even the underlying technology, specifically generative AI and ChatGPT are deeply flawed, prone to misinterpreting user questions and providing incorrect or hallucinatory answers.

Another problem is the price.

The Humane AI Pin’s price clocks in at $699 plus a $24 monthly subscription.

While this is less than the average price of a smartphone in North America, which is around $790, it’s also very pricey for a device that hasn’t proved its usefulness yet.

For many reviewers, this is way too much for what the cofounders refer to as a “version 1.0” release.

As David Pearce, editor at large at The Verge, wrote in his Humane AI pin review, “it’s a beta test,” that’s “not worth $700, or $24 a month, or all the time and energy and frustration the using it requires.”

Based on the critical reception so far, Tom Allen, CEO of The AI Journal, considers the release to be a big miss.

Allen told Techopedia via email:

“[I] think it’s a flop from what I’ve seen. Doesn’t seem to integrate with much, problems with usability, such as making calls. I think the core technology is impressive but not the right design for what people want out of a mobile.”

Summing up the issues, Allen said:

“It sounds too much of a pain from having it separate from embedded ecosystems of everything you can do with Apple and Samsung.”

Humane’s Next Steps

Following the negative reviews, Humane has released a statement on X in response, expressing gratitude for the feedback.

While the statement largely downplayed the criticism of Humane’s wearable AI device, it did highlight that the organization recognizes the need for improvement and is setting out a roadmap to improve the product going forward.

In any case, Humane has attempted to confront the criticism head-on with a roadmap.

The roadmap sets out some features expected to come to the device in the summer, including updated voice settings, a dynamic UI, SMS photo sharing, timers, a world clock, time-based reminders, push support, Google Places, General Directions, and translation in your own voice.

Humane's AI Pin Roadmap
Humane’s AI Pin Roadmap. Source: Humane

Although it remains to be seen how these updates will improve the overall capabilities of the product, at this stage, they appear to be too little too late.

It’s unlikely that an updated user interface, world clocks, and new voice settings will be enough to address the core limitations of the product.

The Bottom Line

Humane set out on a bold mission to define the next generation of wearable devices, but it’s unlikely that the AI Pin will replace the smartphone as the go-to personal device of choice anytime soon. After all, what is a Humane AI pin to a smartphone? At best, a niche device.

The unfortunate takeaway from this release is that sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. You need to be able to innovate solutions that customers in the market actually need. And with smartphones offering the frictionless user experience that they do, there might be no space for the Humane AI Pin to step into that role.

FAQs

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Tim Keary
Technology Specialist
Tim Keary
Technology Specialist

Tim Keary is a freelance technology writer and reporter covering AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise technology. Before joining Techopedia full-time in 2023, his work appeared on VentureBeat, Forbes Advisor, and other notable technology platforms, where he covered the latest trends and innovations in technology. He holds a Master’s degree in History from the University of Kent, where he learned of the value of breaking complex topics down into simple concepts. Outside of writing and conducting interviews, Tim produces music and trains in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).