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Humane in the Face of AI

Posted on Friday, November 10th, 2023

Dave!Between my iPhone and my Apple Watch, I'm good.

That's not to say that I'm against adopting new and exciting "wearable" technology as it arrives... it's just that it would have to be something incredibly useful or amazing for me to hop on the early-adopter bandwagon.

Today Humane, a company creating AI tech, is announcing more details of their "Humane AI Pin" that they demoed in a TedTalk six months ago. Including the price, which clocks in at a whopping $699 (plus a required $24 per month for a cellular contract via T-Mobile).

I fully admit that it's an interesting trinket. With some caveats...

UPDATE - VIDEO REMOVED FROM YOUTUBE BY HUMANE: Let's say that you work hard to create a ten minute joyless video announcing your product launch. What's the best possible thing that could happen? I'll tell you what... people copy and repost your video so it goes viral. There's no better advetising because it's exponential but costs no additional money. Except Humane has started issuing take-down notices with copyright strikes against people reposting it. Apparently the launch video had some pretty serious factual errors involving how much protein is in a handful of almonds and where is the best place to see the upcoming eclipse. So Humane is working hard to remove the evidence, I guess.

A handful of almonds.

Wrong eclipse information.

The one thing they demoed that was its "killer feature" was live translation using your own voice and inflection. Alas, they had to remove the whole video, so that's gone too...

Live translation demo.

And about those caveats...

  • I question the legibility of a "laser screen" that's projected on your hand. First of all... how does it focus? Second of all... the wrinkles and folds of the human hand hardly seem like the best device for projection. The central part is large enough to be readable, but I have no idea what's written around that. If anything. Maybe it's decorative?
  • I rarely use the voice interface on my iPhone or Apple Watch... and even then it's when I'm not in public. I'm not going to start talking to them while I'm out in public, disrupting the peace. It would be hypocritical given the disdain I have for people who take calls on speakerphone in public.
  • They put a lot of effort in talking about privacy. But if your interaction is all 98% talking out loud and listening out loud, how private can it be? Absolutely everybody will be in your business who's within earshot.
  • Despite the fact that the "Battery Booster" is on the back side of whatever cloth the pin is hanging off of, it's only making the thing all the more heavy. I'd have to try it for myself, of course, but it seems like a rather large and clunky device to hang off my T-shirt.
  • I'm on T-Mobile, which is the Humane service provider. And despite what their ads tell you, their quality os pretty much shit. In rural areas, like my home, I bounce between two and three bars (it is 5G-UC, not that it makes my calls stranger or my data faster). In big cities, I have other problems. Possibly from the network being overloaded? No idea. All I do know is that my cell service was better under AT&T... and much better under Verizon. To have something which is entirely reliant on "The Cloud" as connected by T-Mobile seems dicey. Feels like there's going to be some serious lag waiting for actions to be performed.
  • I didn't buy an Apple Watch with cellular service because my iPhone is always with me and the non-cellular version can sponge off my iPhone's cellular connection seamlessly. It seems really weird that the AI Pin can't do that as well. You must buy a $24 a month cellular plan, even if you've always got a phone on you.
  • SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?!? I know that the R&D for this thing must have been pricey, but there's no screen, limited interactivity, and very limited uses. When I compare it to something even more outrageously-priced, like the $3,500 AppleVision Pro, at least I can see where Apple spent the money. This little box though? Look, I fully understand that Humane has nowhere to go but up, and the device will only improve as time goes on, but $700 seems a hugely expensive price to pay for it given its awkward nature and limited application.

I will watch the progression of Humane's little gadget with interest. But I won't be dropping $700 to buy the first one. Maybe they'll be able to prove its necessity in the future. Or maybe the price will drop low enough that it will be a fun thing to play with for the price.

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