The AI Pin: A Smart Body Camera That Wants To Compete With Smartphones

Human AI Pin marketing picture. (Credting: Humane)

Seeking to shake up the smartphone market, Humane introduced its ‘AI Pin’, which at first glance looks like someone put a very stylish body camera on their chest. There’s no display, only the 13 MP camera and some other optics visible above what turns out to be a touch panel, which is its main gesture-based input method, while it’s affixed to one’s clothing using either a magnet on the other side of the fabric, a wireless powerbank or a clip. Inside the unit you find a Qualcomm octa-core processor with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of eMMC storage, running a custom Android-based ‘Cosmos’ OS.

The AI Pin home screen, demonstrating why hand palms are poor projection surfaces. (Credit: Humane)
The AI Pin home screen, demonstrating why hand palms are poor projection surfaces. (Credit: Humane)

There is also a monochrome (teal) 720p laser projector built-in that provides something of a screen experience, albeit with the expectation that you use your hand (or presumably any other suitable surface) to render it visible. From the PR video it is quite clear that visibility of the projection is highly variable, with much of the text often not remotely legible, or only after some squinting. The hand-based gestures to control the UI (tilting to indicate a direction, touching thumb & index finger together to confirm) are somewhat of a novelty, though this may get tiresome after a day.

An article by [Ron Amadeo] over at Ars Technica also takes a look at the device, where the lack of an app ecosystem is pointed out, as well as the need for a mandatory internet connection (via T-Mobile). Presumably this always-on ‘feature’ is where the ‘AI’ part comes in, as the device has some voice assistant functionality, which seems to rely heavily on remote servers. As a result, this ends up being a quirky device with no third-party app support for a price tag of $700 + the $25/month for online service. Not to mention that people may look a bit odd at you walking around with a body camera-like thing on your chest that you keep rubbing and holding your hand in front of.

To be fair, it’s not often that we see something more quaint in this space come out than Google Glass, now many years ago.

20 thoughts on “The AI Pin: A Smart Body Camera That Wants To Compete With Smartphones

  1. I look at this and see basically a commbadge from Star Trek with extra bits added onto it. IDK, I’d be interested if it was possible for “AI” bits to run locally. People have pointed out that some of the answers it returned in the demo video were wrong. Things like that could be tempered by how you use it. I just wouldn’t want something else that sends my voice and pictures to a cloud server for a 3rd party to do god knows what with.

  2. Unless this replaces a phone, it’s just something else to carry, worry about get lost & stolen and needs charging. Seeing as everyone is going to be carrying their phone anyway, why can’t this device be tethered to a phone for data?

  3. Corporations: “we need more data to train our AIs and track people.”
    Employee: “What if we created a gimmick item that convinced people to walk around 24/7 with a camera and microphone on?”

      1. And the cameras see mostly your face, people’s legs on sidewalks, inside of bags and pockets, surface of a table, the ceiling. The photos/videos that were shot intentionally by you are much more valuable and easier to get.

  4. Besides the questionable use case, I’m quite interested in the wireless charging. With 60% efficiency of the technology it’s quite wasteful. Where you get just over half the ‘normal’ use out of it. It’s likely also gets worse for thicker clothes like hoodies. The hot swap is nice, though. Them yet again, the batteries are charged wirelessly from a companion box.

    This tech does seem to work very nicely for the wireless earbuds, as they are quite small and efficient compared to this technology.

  5. Didn’t MIT develop an amulet-based similar personal assistant back in… [checks notes] 2009?!? The hardware was apparently only $350 nearly a decade-and-a-half ago. It didn’t have AI-chatbot integration, but the other features, including projection onto nearby surfaces and gesture control, were all present back then using modified parts off the shelf. Look up “Project Sixth Sense”.

  6. Anyone else realize how much of a safety hazard the Laser Projector poses? I mean it apparantly faces down sure, but can do so right into the eyes of Kids and Animals who might look at it out of curiousity…

    Regardless. So much money for a tiny badge to awkwardly scream at as either its voice recognition or the chatbot misunderstanding seems doomed to fail. Should pose interesting once it gets dumped by the truckloads for salvaging/hacking though.

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