The Humane Ai Pin might not be an iPhone killer after all

Humane Ai Pin
(Image credit: Humane)

Back in April, we reported that Humane, a secretive tech startup headed up by ex-Apple executives, had revealed a new AI-driven mini projector. For years, people have been saying wearable tech will replace the smartphone – but if the newly-announced name of this thing is anything to go by, this might not be the 'iPhone killer' some have claimed it to be.

A press release has revealed that the wearable will be called Humane Ai Pin. The company calls it 'A phone, a contextual computer, a platform... all in one', which sounds complicated – and might explain the curiously un-catchy name. Still, the device itself remains intriguing – even the wake of Apple's own brand new wearable, Vision Pro.

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The stand-alone AI-driven mini projector can be you worn on a shirt pocket and can handle calls, scan objects and translate your voice. Humane had been keeping the product under wraps, but we finally got a glimpse during a Ted Talks demo (below), and as of today, we know the name.

"The connected and intelligent clothing-based wearable device uses a range of sensors that enable contextual and ambient compute interactions," says Humane. "We are excited to reveal our first device will be called the Humane Ai Pin. Our Ai Pin presents an opportunity for people to take AI with them everywhere and to unlock a new era of personal mobile computing which is seamless, screenless and sensing." 

Humane was founded in 2018 by two Apple veterans: former director of software engineering Bethany Bongiorno and designer Imran Chaudhri, who worked on the iPhone user interface. Its first product is a kind of mini projector that you would wear on your shirt or coat’s breast pocket and control via gesture and voice. A built-in camera can recognise objects and text, and AI will allow the user to ask questions to get information about what they're seeing.

But for all the fanfare, we're a little disappointed with the name. 'Humane Ai Pin' is hardly as catchy as, I don't know, 'iPhone', and the shoe-horning of 'AI' into the actual title of the product suggests the company is going for the zeitgeist rather than timelessness. Not only is AI already a controversial topic in many creative sectors, but who knows if we'll still actually be using that name in a couple of years' time? If AI continues to seep into every aspect of our digital and creative lives, spelling out its actual name could soon become as superflous as saying 'www.' before spelling out a URL.

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Still, janky name aside, the Pin (can we just call it the Pin?) certainly looks novel. One clip shows Chaudhri taking a call on the device (see the tweet from Ben Geskin above) To see who's calling, he holds his hand out in front of him, and the called ID is projected along with icons, such as a mute button. It's flashy, but looks a little awkward, and it's not clear from the short clip whether the icons are usable as buttons.

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Another clip from the presentation shared on Twitter by Ray Wong shows Chaudhri translate a phrase from English into French (in his own voice!) at the touch of a button. This is also impressive, but it's not clear how the device knew he wanted to speak French or even translate at all – we don't yet know if it chooses a language via an AI-driven assumption based on location or has to be set up in advance.

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While the demo shows some clever features, Humane's not the only company working on a product like this, and we're still not quite sold that the concept solves any existing problem. It doesn't seem that it can necessarily do anything that a smartphone couldn't do with the same AI model.

It's not yet clear how Humane's device is getting its data either. Humane's wearable doesn't pair with a smartphone, so presumably, it will have 5G connectivity to keep it connected to a cloud-based service, but we'll have to wait to see the full demo or for Humane to release more information to find out for sure. Prefer to opt for an Apple Watch? See the best current prices below, or see our pick of the best Apple Watch alternatives.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.

With contributions from