AI Pin

By Mark Nuyens
6 min. read📱 Technology

While Humane's AI Pin introduces some innovative ways for interaction, I personally believe AR glasses is the way to go.

This week, Humane unveiled its new AI Pin, an interesting mobile device designed to be worn on the chest without a screen, challenging conventional smartphone functionalities. Capable of handling tasks like calling, texting, and capturing images through its built-in camera, the AI Pin responds to spoken requests and even projects laser-like visual information when needed. In this article, I'd like to share my thoughts on the AI Pin and explore the future of wearable technology.

Although impressed by its unique form factor, the AI Pin made me question its means for interaction: speech. While I was watching its demo, I was sitting in a coffee bar with my headphones on. The idea of talking to this device for sending a text or looking up something in public made me feel uncomfortable, similar to how I feel towards using Apple's Siri. This becomes an issue as soon as conversations extend beyond basic prompts about the weather, potentially revealing highly personal details and sentiments. The AI Pin's reliance on speech as the exclusive input method may prevent widespread user adoption. Meanwhile, the device's capacity to capture photos and videos also introduces privacy challenges, even with the assurance of a light indicating it's recording.

Humane's demo of the AI Pin.

Another noteworthy drawback would be the absence of a physical display. In recent years, I've been advocating for minimizing smartphone usage, but the lack of a screen could pose challenges in terms of usability and familiarity. The AI Pin projects its display onto a hand or flat surface, introducing a learning curve for users to navigate the interface through hand movements. It also raises questions about the comfort (perhaps even safety) of having to raise your hand to chest height and its vibility, particularly on sunny days. Moreover, I'm guessing that mos of us will have a preference for visual information over audio—a tendency deeply ingrained by our past interactions with screens.

Despite these concerns, Humane's excellent timing, together with their partnerships with Microsoft, OpenAI, and T-Mobile demonstrate an deep understanding of the potential of artificial intelligence. While I share their confidence in AI assistants becoming an essential part of our digital lives, as highlighted in my previous article titled AI Therapy, I am unsure if this interaction should run exclusively through speech, given the drawbacks I described earlier. While AI companions are a promising prospect for future generations, the AI Pin's approach might not be the optimal bridge between traditional hardware and powerful AI assistants.

Looking ahead, I envision a different future for wearable technology—AR glasses. Initially pioneered by Google in 2013, AR glasses failed to gain traction due to poor product-market fit. However, with companies like Meta and Apple paving the way, now might be a perfect time for the resurgence of AR glasses. The technological advancements over the past decade could address previous shortcomings. To foster user trust and privacy, a new, independent company could take the lead, emphasizing data privacy, security, and an open-source approach. Possibly running on Linux, the AR glasses could access applications through web interfaces, seamlessly adapting to this new type of medium.

In my opinion, the advantages of AR glasses are obvious—they enrich our fields of vision through interactive overlays, utilize AI vision technologies for a deeper understanding of our surroundings, and offer hands-free photo and video capabilities. Interaction can be facilitated through hand gestures or external accessories, like rings or wrist bands. While still maintaining the ability to converse with the device, audio feedback would be delivered through bone conduction, eliminating the need for headphones or speakers.

In conclusion, the trajectory of wearable technology, as exemplified by the AI Pin, prompts critical reflections on privacy, usability, and user habits. While the AI Pin introduces innovative features, my personal vision for the future leans toward the revival of AR glasses, guided by principles of user privacy, security, and open collaboration. Wearables certainly have the potential to redefine our mobile landscape, providing a fresh canvas for both consumers and developers.

P.s. For those looking for a cheaper alternative to your smartphone, may I suggest just turning it off once in a while? You could consider buying a 'dumb phone' (not my words, rather implied by our 'smartphone') such as a simple Nokia model that costs less than $20, to stay connected. During Offline November, I've experienced some positive effects. 😉