Apple’s former chief design officer, Jony Ive, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are allegedly exploring opportunities to collaborate on building an unspecified artificial intelligence “hardware device,” according to two sources speaking to The Information.
There’s currently no word on what the device will be, or what purpose it serves. The Information claims that Ive and Altman, who are friends, have been discussing what “new hardware for the AI age could look like.” It’s currently unclear if the device will be created by OpenAI or a third-party manufacturer, or indeed if the duo will decide to build the device at all.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Altman has partnered with a former Apple designer on new hardware. Thomas Meyerhoffer — who was Ive’s first hire at Apple and worked alongside him on projects like the iMac — designed the spherical retina-scanning Orb for Altman’s Worldcoin crypto project. Orb was developed by Tools for Humanity, a company that Altman co-founded in 2019 and serves as the company’s chairman.
Altman has a history of working with ex-Apple elite
Altman is also one of the biggest investors in Humane — a hardware and software startup company co-founded by ex-Apple employees — which is developing a wearable AI device that’s designed to replace smartphones. Humane is collaborating with OpenAI to integrate the AI company’s technology into the device.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is also reportedly involved in the discussions with Altman and Ive. Once the richest man in the world, Son has invested over $140 billion into AI-related startups over the last few years and previously said he would make SoftBank “the investment company for the AI revolution.” It isn’t yet clear if he will remain involved with Ive and Altman’s plans.
Update, September 27th, 6.10AM ET: Added additional information regarding Sam Altman’s involvement with Humane.