Humane, start-up founded by ex-Apple veterans, launches Microsoft-backed wearable Ai Pin in bid to replace smartphones

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Humane, a Silicon Valley start-up with a star-studded list of co-founders and executives, on Thursday released a US$699 device that aims to bring cutting-edge artificial intelligence to a lapel near you.
The Ai Pin, as the device is called, is designed to be worn on clothing and can be tapped to talk to a virtual assistant powered by technologies from ChatGPT-creator OpenAI and cloud computing power from Microsoft. It uses a laser projection system to display text and monochromatic images on a user’s hand.

Founded by ex-Apple veterans who worked on the iPhone, Humane is one of many companies in Silicon Valley angling to find the next wave of consumer devices.

But the company has emphatically rejected the mixed-reality headsets in the works from companies such as Apple and Meta Platforms, with Humane co-founder and president Imran Chaudhri saying during a demonstration of the Ai Pin earlier this year that “the future is not on your face”.

Instead, Humane is offering a device with no traditional screen that relies almost entirely on artificial intelligence to interact with the user. The Pin’s virtual assistant aims to leapfrog others by composing messages in the user’s tone of voice and offers a “Catch Me Up” feature to summarise a messy email inbox.

The Pin also includes a camera that can take pictures or use computer vision to scan objects like food, telling the user an estimate of its nutritional content.

The Pin is meant to eventually be a smartphone replacement. The US$24-a-month subscription plan comes with its own phone number, and it does not need to be paired with a phone.

Chaudhri spent 20 years at Apple, and led the design of the iPhone’s home screen. His co-founder and wife Bethany Bongiorno was a software development leader for products including the iPhone, iPad and later the Mac, and was part of the founding iPad team.

The Ai Pin features a laser projector that can emit text and images onto the user’s hand. Photo: Handout

Chaudhri and Bongiorno also recruited other former Apple employees to the team, including the chief technology officer, Patrick Gates, who was previously a senior director of engineering at the Cupertino, California, company.

“Ai Pin is the embodiment of our vision to integrate AI into the fabric of daily life, enhancing our capabilities without overshadowing our humanity,” Chaudhri said in a statement.

The company said the Ai Pin will be available in the United States from November 16. Humane has raised US$241 million from Microsoft, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and others.

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