innovation

Last week, Humane presented its first product, simply called “Ai Pin,” a small square gadget made of aluminum with rounded edges that one can pin to a shirt with the help of various accessories.

It does not have its own display or keyboard but is instead controlled primarily by voice and a small touchpad. However, a laser projector can display additional information in the user’s hand, while an AI chatbot answers queries via the mobile internet connection.

Orders for the Ai Pin began November 16 in the USA, carrying a price of $699, plus an additional $24 per month for mobile access.

On the front of the device, which is available in three colors, there is a series of sensors above the touchpad. These include a 3D sensor and a 13-megapixel camera, which can currently only take photos; the developers are still working on video recording.

Power is supplied via a rechargeable battery, which is housed in the actual Ai Pin. An additional “battery booster” can be connected to the pin on the back.

Owners can also use this mechanism to attach the gadget to their shirts, and there is also a clip that can be used to attach it to thicker clothing. Thanks to the double battery, users can leave the pin switched on permanently – all they must do is replace the booster.

The Ai Pin has an “AI Mic” for voice control. The system converts your voice into a request, which the AI answers via the mobile connection. The answer is then given via a “personic speaker”, which is only intended to be heard by the wearer.

In the presentation video, Humane also demonstrated its ability to recognize other languages and translate them directly.

The Ai Pin does not offer traditional apps. Instead, all requests are to be processed by the artificial intelligence. However, the pin can be configured via a web interface.

The laser projector can be used to project a simple interface for controlling the Ai Pin onto the inside of the user’s hand, displaying text messages, incoming calls or controlling the music streaming service.

Humane has integrated a 3D sensor which recognizes the movements of the user’s hand and controls the inputs.

The gadget, however, does not listen to wake-up words, as is the case with the Google, Amazon or Apple assistants. There is also a small LED on the pin, which informs the user and people around you when it is active.

Ramon Llamas, research director with IDC’s devices and displays team, says the device has the potential to raise eyebrows at first, because often new technology simply has that effect.

“If anything, the folks at Samsung and Google and Microsoft, and even Apple will probably look at it with some curiosity, kind of like you and I are right now, and monitor it over time and determine if they want to get into this type of market,” he says. “The really important question to answers is whether there is a market for this.”

Llamas says the real goal with the Ai Pin is the experience of using it, where the AI capabilities are being pushed front and center—a lot of the success will depend on how quickly the device is able to learn from its users and become an indispensable, integrated tool.

“To do that, it’s going to have to be privy to a lot of information about you,” he explains. “A lot of your contact information, a lot of your preferences, a lot of things you like to search. You have to be really comfortable with that.”

The early market for the device will likely be defined by traditional early adopters who are curious to test the latest gadgets coming onto the market, but Llamas also sees potential markets for front line workers or those in logistics who might need their hands free.

“We have to see if there’s really a ‘there’ there, or if this just winds up being another device in the tech market with very limited appeal,” Llamas says.