The First Major AI Consumer Hardware Launch is a Dumpster Fire

The First Major AI Consumer Hardware Launch is a Dumpster Fire

The first reviews are now out for the $699 Humane AI Pin, and the consensus isn’t great, at least if your company’s stated mission includes language like “we all deserve more from technology.”

In case you haven’t heard about the device, it initially made waves as a possible future replacement for smartphones thanks to a TED talk presentation from the company’s co-founder, Imran Chaudhri, delivered almost a year ago, dubbed The Disappearing Computer – and a World Where You Can Take AI Everywhere.

The premise of the talk and Chaudri’s compelling demonstrations sparked fervor around a new consumer hardware dedicated to AI.

The smallish square gadget, which I like to describe as a smart brooch™, promised a variety of potentially useful capabilities. Like Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, you could ask the pin for answers to general questions, get calendar updates, and receive and respond to text messages. More impressively, you could use the device’s onboard camera to scan objects in front of you to provide helpful information. In his demo, Chaudhri asked the pin to scan a piece of food held in his hand to determine whether eating it might be unhealthy. 

It was pitched as a device finally capable of breaking our smartphone addiction. It just also happened to include a camera, a rechargable battery, microphones, speakers and a cellular data plan and phone number for making calls. 

More accurately, it teased the potential of ending the game of the app Whac-A-Mole we all currently play on our phones. By pushing our primary interaction with technology away from screens, we could be free again to fully take in the life happening right in front of us.

The entire elevator pitch might as well have been cocaine to some venture capital and technological evangelists online. “It uses AI!” “It’s a new hardware form factor!” “Former Apple alums started the company!” “Did we mention AI!?!”

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