Early Reviews of Humane AI Pin Aren’t Impressed

Early Reviews of Humane AI Pin Aren’t Impressed

With the long-hyped Humane AI Pin finally hitting the streets Thursday, those gripping their hands until their knuckles turn white in anticipation since its debut last November might want to hold off for a bit before dropping $699 (plus a $24-a-month subscription) on the small, wearable chatbot. Reviews have made their way out the door, and so far, none of those who got their hands on one have come away ecstatic about the wearable AI. The best anyone can say right now is that it’s a unique novelty, but those who have used it say it’s slow, devoid of features, and occasionally doesn’t even work.

It’s an expensive device, to be sure, even for something Humane describes as your “second brain.” The wearable pin with built-in microphone and camera costs as much as an upper mid-range phone, but you’ll also be forced to spend $24 monthly for unlimited talk, text, and data. That’s limited to T-Mobile, though Humane does promise more telecom connectivity overseas with SK Telecom and SoftBank. The device itself is powered with its own OS, dubbed Cosmos. Humane has pledged that some AI works on-device while more processing is handled in the cloud. However, unlike a smartphone, it’s pretty much a hands-off experience. You tap and hold on to the button to talk to it—hence all the comparisons to the Star Trek communicators.

The pin is supposed to do what you ask without needing to scroll through or manage your apps. It also has vision capabilities that should be able to comprehend its environment when you ask it to (emphasis on should)Humane claims the pin should be able to make calls, send texts, take photos, and even play music with a Tidal subscription. It also contains a small projection that should be able to display some images in front of you in the palm of your hand. It’s an all-in-one device without any user interface save for the ability to tap it and talk to it.

The thing is, you may not even get a response when you try to activate it. David Pierce at The Verge claimed he’s still bullish on wearable AI tech, but he said nobody should go out and buy the Humane pin in its current state. He found it slow to respond and too often misinformed, and yet it still lacks features that would seem a shoo-in for a device like the AI Pin, such as email. The device will refuse to answer questions such as “Is this bag of chips good for me?” even with its vision technology installed.

It’s also incredibly buggy and seemingly incomplete. Pierce said the pin wouldn’t complete a simple request to play a single song track from Beyonce. Instead, it went on a diatribe explaining the Humane’s backend instructions for the AI when a user asks for music. When you want to ask it a simple question about the weather, the pin might take close to 10 seconds to give you an answer. As much as we all like to deride Siri and other digital assistants, at least that program will come up with an answer in just a few heartbeats. It takes just as long to send a simple text to a friend.

Humane co-founder Bethany Borgiorno, a former designer at Apple, wrote in a release that “You can naturally capture a moment, it can remember something for you, or answer questions… The more you tell your Ai Pin about you, the more useful it will become for you.” The company recently went through a round of layoffs, which made some concerned that the device wouldn’t have everything promised at launch.

Knowing that reviewers would be pointing out the dearth of features, Humane claimed it had a long roadmap with plans to expand the pin’s capabilities. First on the list is “vision,” which should allow the AI to identify objects and locations, though reviewers noted the pin’s current vision ability is spotty at best. It misidentified the Wall Street IPO sign for Ryde as “Lyft.”

Julian Chokkattu from Wired also grew concerned when he found the AI had lied to him about California banning high-fructose corn syrup. It also misidentified a temple in Thailand as a different temple in Cambodia. As has been noted so many times by so many journalists and researchers, the AI lies, and it does so with extreme confidence.

Reviewers said the hardware feels sturdy, and using it is pretty “natural,” according to Chris Velazco at The Washington Post—even something like putting your palm in front of the device to see if the projector works. However, using gestures to control the projection is difficult, and seeing the messages in sunlight is impossible.

And despite how well-made the device seems to be, multiple reviewers noted that the way the battery extender pack is positioned—connected to the underside of the pin under your shirt to hold it in place—means it can start to get hot pretty quickly. The pin has a built-in battery, but the extender should keep it running longer. The heat built up by the battery is especially problematic if it’s sitting next to or on your skin. Valazco said the pin tended to overheat, forcing it to shut off until it cooled.

A few other features are built in, but you can’t reportedly trust them to work all the time. Reviewers did marvel at the speed and accuracy of the real-time translations, though Scott Stein at Cnet wrote that the pin would sometimes get stuck in a different language after it translated some of his speech.

Bongiorno told The Verge the company is working on a software update set for sometime this summer to add timers, calendar access, and apparently more. Perhaps Humane should have delayed the release until their device reached feature parity with its original promises if that’s the case.

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