Humane’s AI Pin is a screenless, wearable smartphone that’s straight out of Black Mirror

Humane has officially launched its AI Pin, a wearable phone (of sorts) that has been leaked in the past, leaving a lot of questions unanswered – and the invention still has us scratching our heads, frankly. As does the price, but we’ll come back to that later.

So where do we start? The AI Pin is a square gadget with phone capabilities, but doesn’t have a screen. It attaches to your shirt (or other clothing) using a magnetic clip, which is also the battery for the device. This clip can be switched out for another if you run out of juice partway through the day.

The engine is a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and the Pin is equipped with a camera, speaker, and motion sensors, but as mentioned there’s no screen. However, there is a built-in projector, as we saw in the leaked video earlier this year, so you can get a display of sorts projected onto your hand when held in front of the device.

So how do you operate the AI Pin? By using your voice, or with a touchpad on its surface that allows for gesture controls – and a camera which can scan objects.

(Image credit: Humane)

The idea is you can make phone calls (of course), get a phrase translated into a different language right there and then – and spoken in your actual voice, which is pretty cool – and get a summary of your recent emails, to give some examples. There are other tricks, too, such as streaming music (via Tidal).

As the name suggests, AI is an integral part of Humane’s wearable, and you get the ability to throw as many queries as you want at its models (ChatGPT and Microsoft’s AI), which is all tied into the subscription for the Pin. Yes, subscription – let’s talk costs at this point.

The AI Pin will be available to order from November 16 and will cost an upfront $699 (around £569 / AU$1,090) for the device (and two spare battery clips), then on top you have a subscription running to $24 monthly in the US (on T-Mobile). This means you get a phone number and unlimited data allowance, plus the Pin allows for unlimited usage of AI with a cloud storage locker for media thrown in, too.

Analysis: Too many Pin holes?

The problem with the AI Pin is while it seems like a cool novelty on the face of it – and the device is certainly innovative, you can’t knock it on that front – we have a lot of concerns about its usability in the real-world.

Interacting with the AI Pin using your voice may be all well and good in theory, but as anyone who has a smart speaker knows, the likes of Alexa can be spectacularly bad at recognizing your commands at times. And gesture-based commands can be finicky, too (especially on something pinned to your shirt or jacket that you’re looking down at).

(Image credit: Humane)

Price-wise, it’s a big ask for what’s a very small phone-like wearable, especially when you consider that subscription cost on top. We worry about not having a screen, and of course there’s another issue: appearing to talk to your jacket in public is probably not top of everyone’s wish-list of things to be doing on a daily basis.

We need to get the AI Pin for proper testing, of course, and evaluation of its various features, but fears are our overriding first thoughts. And to be honest, that price is frankly terrifying, for something that, let’s face it, can’t really replace your all-singing-and-dancing smartphone, but only complement it.

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