Nov 9, 2023 - Technology

Humane will take orders for its $699 Ai Pin next week

A picture of Humane's Ai Pin in front of a display case.

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Buzzy AI hardware startup Humane Thursday announced it will start taking orders next week for its $699 Ai Pin communicator, though the device won't start shipping until early next year.

Why it matters: If consumers embrace it, the Ai Pin could help usher in a new wave of mobile hardware that uses human language commands, rather than apps, as its primary interface.

Details: The magnetically attached device is designed to work separately from a smartphone and it requires a $24 monthly subscription.

  • Users interact with the pin by touching its face, talking to it or using gestures. The pin communicates with users by voice or by projecting a monochrome display onto the user's hand.
  • The device has a built-in camera and two microphones, but unlike some rival products it is not always recording or even listening for a custom "wake word."
  • The subscription includes unlimited voice calls, texting and AI queries, which use a range of models from Humane, OpenAI and possibly others. It also supports playing music from Tidal, though that requires a separate subscription.
  • The device comes with multiple battery "boosters" that go on the back of the pin, as well as a charging case and other accessories. It's configured and managed through a web interface.

Zoom in: In briefings with reporters on Thursday, Humane executives showed the Pin in action, including playing music, retrieving information from the web and even responding to a query about information sent in a recent text message.

  • The company has targeted sales of 100,000 devices in the first year, though it says it has the flexibility with its manufacturing partners to increase that number.

Yes, but: There's a lot the Ai Pin can't do, at least for now, including offering directions, accessing e-mail and recording audio. Executives said they are exploring all of these ideas.

Between the lines: Humane, led by a husband-and-wife team of former Apple employees, has raised $230 million, including $100 million announced in March. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman led the startup's Series A round.

The intrigue: Earlier this week I asked Altman about the future for AI-enabled hardware and whether OpenAI itself was interested in doing something.

  • "If there's something amazing to do, we'll do it," Altman said, adding that with every major technology shift "there's supposed to be an amazing new computing device."

Flashback: Humane first showed off the pin at the TED conference in April.

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