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Humanes AI Pin wants to free you from your phone

Humanes AI Pin wants to free you from your phone


On a recent afternoon, I held a bagel in front of me and said: “Take a look and tell me if this is healthy or not.”

A monotone voice replied that bagels are unhealthy because they are high in carbohydrates and can lead to weight gain.

I wasn't talking to my fellow techies who are into the ketogenic diet. It's his $700 small computer called Ai Pin, which pulls data from OpenAI (the research company behind the ChatGPT chatbot), Google, Microsoft, and more to create a virtual assistant that answers questions and performs tasks. We are prepared.

Shaped like a Star Trek-inspired lapel pin, it attaches magnetically to clothing and helps reduce the burden of tasks normally performed on a smartphone, such as taking notes, searching the web, and taking photos. It has become. Instead of a screen, Ping shines a green laser on your hand to display text. This device includes a camera, speaker, and mobile phone connectivity.

Created by startup Humane, the Ai Pin's innovative design caused a stir when it was announced late last year. Companies like OpenAI, Microsoft, and Salesforce made a bold $240 million bet in funding Humane that artificial intelligence hardware like Ai Pin would be the next big thing in smartphones. (The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft last year for using copyrighted news articles to train chatbots without permission.)

Humane said Ai Pin's goal is to provide technology that helps people avoid screens and maintain eye contact.

I love the chic aesthetic and concept of the pin. They were helpful at times, like suggesting items to bring on a recent trip to Hawaii. However, after wearing it for two weeks, an obvious flaw appeared. The responses were often unpleasant, as in the bagel case, or wrong, as when he said the square root of 49 was 49. Also, the Timess' photo shoot of Ai Pin ended prematurely as the device overheated and shut down.

I'm not willing to pay $700 for this Pin, let alone the $24 monthly subscription required to use T-Mobile's data service, including its cellular plan. But consider my curiosity piqued.

Imran Chaudhry and Bethany Bongiorno, Humanes' founding couple who both worked at Apple, said the updates issued through the company's servers address many of the glitches I encountered, including heating issues and sloppy calculations. He said he would.

This is a journey and we are just at the beginning, Bongiorno said. The first version is never the whole vision.

Here is my experience wearing Ai Pin:


Ai Pin doesn't have a screen, so users set up their accounts and other settings on the Humanes website. To unlock your device using your passcode, hold out your hand and project a green laser onto your palm. Pulling your hand outward will increase the number, and pulling your hand inward will decrease it. Select each digit by pinching his two fingers of the same hand.

The laser can be used to adjust other settings, such as connecting to a Wi-Fi network, and can also transcribe and display the virtual assistant's answers to text. Humane says the laser is designed to last no more than 9 minutes, but in my case the laser lasted about 3 minutes before the Ai Pin complained that it was too hot and shut down.

virtual assistant

In addition to unlocking pins with lasers, you control Ai pins primarily with finger taps and voice. The benefits of having a virtual assistant pinned to your shirt became apparent when you were moving around and thinking about the many things you had to do.

Press and hold the Ai pin with one finger to summon your assistant and ask it to add a task to your to-do list. This feature came in handy when I was preparing for a vacation to Hawaii and adding items like T-shirts and swim trunks to my packing list. When I asked the pin to suggest other items to bring on a trip there, it recommended hats, sunscreen, and other related items. Very cool.

However, Ai pins were not very useful in other situations. When I went to Hawaii last week, I had trouble remembering the name of a food truck near my hotel that served loco moco, so I asked my assistant to look it up for me. It said they couldn't find such a food truck, so I ended up looking for it on my phone instead.

language interpreter

A key feature of Ai Pin is the ability to translate conversations into another language in real time. Press and hold the pin with one finger to set the language you want to translate to, such as Chinese. I held Ping between her two fingers and spoke the phrase in English, and Ai Ping said it in Chinese. The same is true vice versa.

I've tested this in several other languages ​​including Spanish, French, and Indonesian. I confirmed that the interpreter is usually correct, but when converting from English to Mandarin, he mistakenly translated “good morning” as “da jia hao”, which means “hello everyone” .

Would you like to see it?

Humane has a feature called Vision on Ai Pin, but it's labeled Beta to indicate it's unfinished. The device uses a camera and AI to analyze its surroundings and provide information about what it sees. This led to my strange experience with bagels, which got even stranger as I asked more questions.

When I asked Pin how to make bagels even more delicious, he explained how to make bagels from scratch. Ultimately, I asked Ping to come up with suggestions for sandwiches that could be made with bagels. A long list of ideas was born, including chickpea salad sandwiches, sulu joes, and cucumber sandwiches with green chutney.

During my vacation, I visited a botanical garden and had Pin teach me about flowers. According to Ping, the flowers are yellow with red stripes on the inside. This was correct, but it didn't answer my question.

It's Solandra Maxima, my wife said. She was taking pictures of her flowers on her phone and uploading them to her Google image search. I felt embarrassed.

Humane said it is continually working to improve Vision features.

Telephone related

Like a smartphone, Ai Pin has its own phone number and cellular data connection to make calls and play music, and can also use its camera to take photos and videos.

This is where Ai Pin particularly falls short. If it's designed to reduce the amount of time you spend using your phone, it's not better than a smartphone for any task. Photos and videos taken with the camera appear blurry due to poor lighting. To make a call, you can ask your assistant to call someone in your address book, but to dial a new number, you must enter the digits. As for music, the device currently only works with Tidal, an unpopular music streaming service.

Bongiorno said the Ai Pin allowed him to take more candid photos without the screen getting in the way. But for me, this was a disadvantage. Without a viewfinder, the photo frames didn't display properly.


Ai Pin was useful and impressive at times, but other times it was wrong, unhelpful, or inefficient, and I ended up going back to my phone.

AI entrepreneur Gary Marcus said AI pin errors like the bagel were the result of so-called hallucinations, the tendency for AI to guess and make up correct answers when it can't find them. This is an open question in many AI technologies, including ChatGPT and Google Gemini.

Bongiorno admitted that Gemini, the technology behind the Ai Pins Vision feature, is causing hallucinations. He added that the technology will rapidly improve with user feedback, and the company is already refining Ping's response to bagels.

Marcus said no company yet has AI technology advanced enough to ensure that virtual assistants can answer questions.

He said it's like a broken clock becoming accurate twice a day. Sometimes that's true, but I don't know which part. This will significantly reduce the value.

But there are kernels of ideas worth preserving. I love having my assistant on my shirt when it's actually helpful. I'll pin my hopes on a future version of a cheaper product, perhaps lacking a camera and laser.




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