Humane has announced the creation of a wearable device called the Ai Pin. The design of the product resembles a cross between a pager and a smartphone. It is equipped with a camera, microphone, speaker (called the ‘personic speaker’), a projector and the other wireless connectivity and other features you’d expect from a smartphone. The most significant omission from the Ai Pin is a screen.
You would have to interact with the Ai pin via voice commands, hand gestures and the projector. The projector displays information on your hand including the time and other details you requested. You wear the device on your shirt and then hold up your hand to activate it and facilitate the projection. Humane touts several voice command-powered features in its presentation that are already widely available on most platforms. A few examples are:
- Live text translation (offered by Google Translate, Apple Translate, and DeepL).
- The ability to request information about foods, products and nutrition (offered by Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant).
- The ability to tell it to play songs with your voice (offered by Siri, Alexa, Josh.ai, and Google Assistant).
The Ai Pin handles notifications by illuminating a light called the ‘beacon’ if you have new messages or any other anything else that you need to be alerted to. I haven’t confirmed if notification previews are available via the projector. However, the projector’s resolution appears to be far too low for it to fit long, readable notification previews onto your palm.
Sifting Through Large Quantities Of Information
The Ai Pin is unable to project significant quantities of information onto your palm without making the text much smaller, which would make it unreadable. This means that viewing even a text message longer than a greeting could present a challenge. You can always have it play the messages aloud through the speaker, but that could disturb the people around you and it presents privacy challenges that i’ll discuss further in the privacy section below. Browsing through social media posts would also be unpalatable, making the Ai Pin a complement to your smartphone — not a smartphone replacement.
Images And Videos On The Ai Pin
The Ai Pin is screen-less tech, which means that you won’t be able to view images or videos on the high resolution OLED screens that you’re accustomed to. You also wouldn’t have the same degree of colour accuracy or colour depth. If the projector does offer the ability to project images and videos, they’re not likely to be clear. This problem would be exacerbated outdoors and in brightly-lit rooms. Smartwatches offer screens with a high pixel density, OLED technology, the ability to view images and text clearly. This raises the question of how the $700 Ai Pin would be better than a $400 Apple Watch, or a $350 Pixel watch that offers the same features and sits on your wrist.
Ai Pin’s Privacy: Is The Ai Pin Privacy Friendly?
The Ai Pin’s developer claims that it’s private. However, consider the following:
- You have to communicate using voice commands, which means you’ll have to say your text messages out loud for it to send them. Those around you will hear them, and that would create a significant privacy problem.
The Ai Pin’s Battery Life
The Ai Pin has a battery that can easily be swapped, which is not offered by the majority of smartphones. This means that you can not only replace it easily when its faulty (provided that Humane sells the replacement battery), you can have a second battery and swap it on the go so that you don’t run out of power. This battery swapping feature is quite useful for busy people who spend lots of time on the road and need to continue their work uninterrupted.