On Thursday, after months of demos and hints about what the AI-powered future of gadgets might look like, Humane finally took the wraps off of its first device: the AI Pin.
The device, as we revealed yesterday, is a $699 wearable in two parts: a square device and a battery pack that magnetically attaches to your clothes or other surfaces. In addition to that price, there’s also the $24 monthly fee for a Humane subscription, which gets you a phone number and data coverage through T-Mobile’s network. The company told Wired the device will start shipping in early 2024 and that preorders begin November 16th.
The AI Pin is powered by a Snapdragon processor — though it’s not clear which one — and you control it with a combination of voice control, a camera, gestures, and a small built-in projector. The Pin itself weighs about 34 grams, and the “battery booster” adds another 20. The built-in camera takes 13-megapixel photos and will capture video as well after a software update.
Unlike a device like the Rewind Pendant, it’s not meant to be always recording, and it’s not even listening for a wake word. You’ll have to activate the device manually by tapping and dragging on the touchpad, and the Pin’s “Trust Light” blinks to let you and supposedly everyone else know it’s collecting data.
The Pin’s primary job is to connect to AI models through software the company calls AI Mic. Humane’s press release mentions both Microsoft and OpenAI, and previous reports suggested that the Pin was primarily powered by GPT-4 — Humane says that ChatGPT access is actually one of the device’s core features. Its operating system, called Cosmos, is designed to route your queries to the right tools automatically rather than asking you to download and manage apps.
The Pin’s primary job is to connect to AI models
What Humane is trying to do with the Pin is essentially strip away all the interface cruft from your technology. It won’t have a homescreen or lots of settings and accounts to manage; the idea is that you can just talk to or touch the Pin, say what you want to do or know, and it’ll happen automatically. Over the last year, we’ve seen a huge amount of functionality become available through a simple text command to a chatbot; Humane’s trying to build a gadget in the same spirit.
The question, then, is what this thing can actually do. Most of the features Humane mentions in its announcement today are the ones co-founder Imran Chaudhri showed off during a demo at TED earlier this year: voice-based messaging and calling; a “catch me up” feature that can summarize your email inbox; holding up food to the camera to get nutritional information; and real-time translation. Beyond that, though, it seems the device’s primary purpose is as something of a wearable LLM-powered search engine. The company did tell Wired it intends to add navigation and shopping capabilities, though, and plans to give developers ways to build tools of their own.
Humane seems to view the AI Pin as the beginning of a larger project, which is probably correct: it will get better as the underlying models get better, and seemingly the whole tech industry is hard at work looking for new things to do with AI. Humane may hope its device evolves the way the smartphone did: better hardware improves the user experience over time, but the real revolution comes from what you can do with the device. There’s a lot of work left to do on that front, but Humane’s apparently ready to get started.