Humane Ai Pin review roundup: It’s a disaster


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

I love the idea of Humane’s Ai Pin: It’s an omnipresent smart assistant that you can assign tasks to, and it will perform them for you — like booking the best flight on a certain day, or asking what’s good to eat at a restaurant you just stumbled across. That’s the vision for the $700 magnetic lapel pin released Thursday. But the first Humane Ai Pin reviews paint a disturbing picture.

Many of the third-party testers sound sympathetic to Humane’s vision for the device. In fact, most of the early reviews bend over backward to try to accommodate the Ai Pin’s drawbacks, emphasizing that this is version 1.0 of the product.

But while the vision is beguiling, the implementation makes Humane’s Ai Pin almost unusable. It’s not just slow or unreliable. It flat-out doesn’t work most of the time. The Verge‘s review sums it up well: “Should you buy this thing? That one’s easy. Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.” Ouch.

Humane Ai Pin reviews: It’s slow, confusing and undependable

Humane’s Ai Pin is an early shot at something like the Star Trek computer: A truly smart AI that can truthfully answer any question and perform a wide range of tasks for you. But it’s small and portable and can also see and hear what you are seeing and hearing: It’s context-aware. It was developed by a stellar team of ex-Apple boffins who raised millions of dollars in funding. For some, it’s the kind of gadget that might one day replace your iPhone.

But at $700, plus $24 for a monthly Humane subscription plan, it has big expectations to fulfill. The company miffed its introductory video, but subsequent peeks at the prerelease gadget looked more promising. Expectations were high for the first reviews, but almost all of them are pretty damning.

The Washington Post calls it a “mess.” Wired says it’s “not all that useful.”

The Ai Pin suffers from several big problems:


The Ai Pin relies on T-Mobile for its network connection. But aside from the cellular network being slow, it seems Humane’s servers are also slow — and often unreliable. A lot of the time, the Ai Pin fails to execute basic tasks, like answering queries, streaming music or making calls. Here’s The Verge:

I’d estimate that half the time I tried to call someone, it simply didn’t call. Half the time someone called me, the AI Pin would kick it straight to voicemail without even ringing. After many days of testing, the one and only thing I can truly rely on the AI Pin to do is tell me the time.

Speed pops up again and again in Humane Ai Pin reviews

The Ai Pin also proves painfully slow. All the reviews I read complained about the Ai Pin’s speed. Most interactions take several seconds, which seems like a lifetime. Ray Wong at Inverse, who seems to really want to like the gadget, had this to say:

Compared to Alexa, Google Assistant, and yes, even Siri, getting an answer to certain basic questions like “What’s the weather?” using the Ai Pin can take as long as six seconds. That may not seem like a long wait, but when the other assistants can answer almost immediately, the Ai Pin feels like a turtle crawling while the hares race by, leaving a trail of dust.

Battery and overheating

Another thing most reviewers complained about was the battery and overheating. The Ai Pin comes with a built-in battery that lasts for about four hours, and a magnetic Booster pack that increases it to nine hours (and doubles as the way to attach the pin to your clothes). Each Ai Pin also comes with an additional Battery Booster and a Charge Case so you can keep the swappable batteries juiced at all times.

However, even with swappable batteries and a case, it’s often a challenge to keep the device powered all day. Overheating seems to be a big battery draw.

In a short video review, The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern says it tends to get hot:

And Engadget’s Cherlynn Low said she almost got burned:

… it was running so hot, I felt burned every time my skin came into contact with its chrome edges.

Unintuitive UI

As well as voice, the Ai Pin uses its laser projector to beam its interface onto the user’s palm. In videos, it looks super-cool and sci-fi. But interacting with the UI requires a combination of hand tilts, pinch gestures and moving your hand back and forth to work. None of the reviewers said they liked it, and most complained it was hard to master. Says Chris Velazco at the Washington Post:

… using the Pin can get frustrating, fast. Take those tilt and pinch gestures: They’re easy to understand, but hard to master. Even after two weeks, I still find myself struggling to select just the right menu options.

Lack of a good use case

The Ai Pin can do a lot of things — make calls, send messages, identify objects with its camera — but it seems to lack one thing it excels at, a so-called killer app. It can’t access your calendar or send texts to Messages. It can’t even set timers.

David Pierce at The Verge said he hoped it’d do one thing well: stream music so he could leave the phone at home while on a walk or run, but it failed at that:

Me: “Play ‘Texas Hold ’Em’ by Beyoncé.”
The AI Pin: “Songs not found for request: Play Texas Hold ’Em by Beyonc\u00e9. Try again using your actions find a relevant track, album, artist, or playlist; Create a new PlayMusic action with at least one of the slots filled in. If you find a relevant track or album play it, avoid asking for clarification or what they want to hear.”

Conclusion: A common thread in Humane Ai Pin reviews

Most of the reviews conclude that the Ai Pin is a great idea with flawed execution. In its defense, Humane acknowledges many of the problems and promises to work on fixes coming this summer.

I hope the company has enough cash to stay afloat and fix its problems. I’m rooting for Humane. Most of the reviewers seem to feel this way too: Ray Wong posted several messages on X today in defense of the company.

However, as Wired notes, the whole concept may be flawed. Even if it worked, there’s not much useful you can do with the Ai Pin. You can’t summon an Uber or navigate yourself to a nearby coffee shop. You can’t set appointments or share photos taken with the device.

The Ai Pin is not just suffering from early teething troubles. There’s not much useful you can do with it. The whole idea of this “iPhone killer” seems dead on arrival.


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