The Ai Pin demo that Humane should have made


Humane's AI Pin projector in action.
Humane's AI Pin projector in action.
Photo: Humane

So far, all the demos of Humane’s supposedly iPhone-killing Ai Pin have been underwhelming.

Humane pitched the small, screenless device — which ships next month — as a successor to smartphones. However, it is garnering almost no buzz at all, no thanks to its lackluster marketing. The Ai Pin’s first introductory video looked especially bad. It proved so head-scratchingly awful, it made you wonder if the company wants the device to bomb, like some kind of high-tech The Producers investor/insurance scam.

But a new video just emerged that actually makes the device look cool. It’s the demo Humane should have made.

Cool Humane Ai Pin demo

Humane's Home view laser-projected onto the user's hand.
Humane’s Home view laser-projected onto the user’s hand.
Screenshot: Humane

Humane, a San Francisco startup launched by a stellar team of ex-Apple talent, at one time seemed to have a strong shot at killing smartphones.

Husband-and-wife team Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, Apple veterans who played big parts in the development of the first iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, macOS and more, founded the company. While in stealth mode, Humane raised millions of dollars from blue-chip Silicon Valley VC firms and recruited a who’s who of ex-Apple talent. That included Ken Kocienda, a software whiz behind the first iPhone keyboard and autocorrect (don’t hold it against him) and Brian Huppi, a hardware brainiac who helped develop the original iPhone’s touchscreen, and plenty more talent besides.

But that early hype came before November 2023, when Humane introduced its Ai Pin in a disastrous launch. Even though the device ships in just a few weeks, it has garnered almost no buzz at all. Maybe part of that stems from the fact that it competes with Apple’s own iPhone killer, the Vision Pro. Apple’s new $3,499 headset has been orgasmically buzzed about for weeks.

However, on Monday, Humane’s Instagram account posted a short video showing the Ai Pin projecting information onto a user’s outstretched palm with its built-in laser projector. (Note: The Instagram video seems to have disappeared, but the video is circulating on X.)

How the Ai Pin’s user interface works

The video, apparently shot by Sam Sheffer, Humane’s head of new media, shows the Ai Pin projecting a “Home” view on the wearer’s hand. The Home view looks like the App View in Apple Vision Pro, with a circle of apps — or more likely, device functions — arranged in a circle.

The Home view is triggered when the unidentified user pushes their hand out away from their body.

The user is instructed to rotate through the Home view by slightly turning their hand, as though they were rolling a marble around in their palm. As they rotate their hand, the different functions light up.

“That’s wild,” says the unidentified user, echoing what a lot of viewers must be thinking as they watch.

Actually cool technology

This is the first cool Humane Ai Pin demo I’ve seen so far. It seems baffling that the company left this kind of basic functionality out of the Ai Pin’s introductory video. That one concentrated on mundane details like battery packs and magnetic accessories.

Perhaps these functionalities weren’t ready when the first video was released three months ago. Nonetheless, the way Humane is marketing the AI Pin will likely be taught in business schools — as a precautionary tale.

The company keeps trying to generate buzz by posting short videos on its social media accounts, as well as the accounts of its employees.

But so far, most of the Ai Pin videos show the device doing stuff you can already do with your iPhone or Android phone. Things like shooting video,  queuing up music in a car or asking basic questions about a national park.

Even seemingly impressive demonstrations of the Ai Pin’s AI capabilities — like identifying a tuna wrap popular on TikTok from a vague description — appear clearly derived from its integration with ChatGPT. Plus, I was able to easily get the exact same answer using Siri on my iPhone. The only one I couldn’t get Siri to replicate was identifying a Michael Jackson song from another vague, cryptic description.

That is wild

The new Humane video also shows the Ai Pin performing real-time language translations. The device projects text onto the user’s hand instead of speaking the words aloud as in previous demos.

As with the Apple Vision Pro gestures, you trigger interactions with the Ai Pin by pinching your thumb and forefinger together.

The video is filmed in what looks like a bicycle workshop. The user asks: “What’s the proper torque setting for rotor bolts on a bicycle?”

Then, after a few seconds of delay, the Ai Pin returns some general guidelines that sound accurate and quite useful.

Unlike previous demos, the video makes the Ai Pin look cool and usable. Maybe isolating goggles aren’t the future of computing after all?


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