- The Humane AI Pin has a questionable pricing model, requiring both a high upfront cost and a monthly subscription.
- The AI Pin likely won’t be as useful or practical as current smartphones or smartwatches, with a blurry display and finicky gestures.
- AI Pin’s reliance on artificial intelligence is problematic, as evidenced by incorrect information in the launch video.
Humane, the closely guarded tech startup made up of former Apple employees, unveiled its first product last week. It’s called Humane AI Pin, and while we’ve already seen teasers and demos of it, the company officially announced it on November 9 with a pre-recorded launch video. Humane believes its new product “marks a new beginning for consumer technology,” of course. In the months leading up to the official launch of the AI Pin, I became increasingly skeptical of the product.
Now that the Humane AI Pin is finally going to be available for pre-order, I can confidently say that my skepticism was justified. With questionable usefulness, a wacky pricing model, and the weak nature of current AI, it’s clear that the Humane AI Pin is another failed product from former Apple employees.
The strange pricing model of the Humane AI Pin
It could have been a subscription or a one-time purchase, but not both.
New product categories often come with a high initial cost of entry, and that’s nothing new. Just look at the Apple Vision Pro, which is expected to retail for $3,500 next year. However, Humane has opted for an interesting strategy for pricing its AI Pin. It’s not just a high starting price or a recurring subscription, it requires both. If you want the Humane AI Pin, you’ll have to pay $700 just for the hardware and $24 per month as an additional subscription. We’ve already seen companies requiring subscriptions to use hardware, the most notable being Whoop. The Whoop 4.0, which is a fitness tracker, is actually very popular despite requiring a subscription. But that’s because Whoop doesn’t charge customers a subscription And for the material.
It’s worth noting that Humane’s subscription is actually very good value for money. You get an included T-Mobile phone plan and access to Tidal music streaming right out of the box, and those are pretty good perks. Finding a phone plan for $24 a month or less is tricky in 2023, so with that in mind, Humane’s subscription price isn’t that bad. However, coupled with the separate hardware cost, it is a daunting task. This is especially true if your Humane AI PIN does not replace your smartphone, as you would pay for the PIN on top of your monthly phone bill.
Can it replace your phone or smart watch?
If it’s faster and easier to just use your phone, what’s the point?
With all of these new technology form factors, a good indicator of their usefulness is whether they are better or more convenient than current products. If the Humane AI Pin can be more useful or practical than the best smartphones, it might have a chance to become a blockbuster product. It could even be a success if it could outperform a smartwatch, since it is a wearable device. The problem is that the Humane AI Pin is worse than both.
Just take a look at the AI Pin’s laser-projected display in the image above, which was taken from Humane’s launch video. It’s blurry and apart from the time, we can’t make out much. To be honest, it might look better in person. But this was a pre-recorded launch video, so Humane had endless takes to get it right. Apparently, this is the best the AI Pin has to offer.
The AI Pin is controlled by voice and hand gestures. It doesn’t have a screen, but instead uses that laser projector to display information on your hand. As such, the hand plays an important role in how you use the AI Pin. Pinches are the primary way to navigate the Humane AI Pin user interface. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t see how this can really be any more convenient than pulling out your smartphone or using a fancy smartwatch. With a mediocre projector and finicky gestures, the Humane AI Pin feels like a harder-to-use smartwatch.
Artificial intelligence still has a long way to go
AI Pin made errors in pre-recorded launch video
It doesn’t take many words to show how a fully AI-based device, in its current state, could be a disaster. Artificial intelligence gets it wrong, and a wearable device that might randomly spread misinformation does more harm than good. I wish this was just a hypothetical argument, but alas, the Humane AI Pin literally got it wrong in the pre-recorded launch video. Human leaders asked the pin, “When will the next eclipse be and where is the best place to see it?” He responded that Exmouth in Australia or East Timor would be the best places to view the April 2024 eclipse. There is only one problem. The next eclipse, which will take place in April next year, will not be visible in Australia at all.
All of this adds up to make the Humane AI Pin seem like a product with no purpose. It has a pricing model that doesn’t make sense, a use case that can’t replace existing devices, and just doesn’t get it right. It’s possible that in a few years we’ll all be wearing AI Pins and Humane has overcome what looked like a dismal initial launch. After all, the tech media wasn’t impressed with the iPhone when it debuted. However, what is more likely is that the Humane AI Pin will join the mass of startups missed by former Apple employees.
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