“AI Pin”: who is Humane, this start-up that wants to replace smartphones?

Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, former members of Apple, in a trailer published on X (formerly Twitter) presented the product they have been working on for 5 years. Screenshots of Le Figaro

After five years of research, a young American company offers a suitable product that integrates the capabilities of ChatGPT. His ambition is to reduce the presence of screens.

A small box to attach to the lapel of a sweater or jacket. A priori, nothing revolutionary, but the gadget that looks like “Star Trek” is presented by gadget creators as the successor of the smartphone. A bold bet for Humane, the start-up that designs them.

After five years of mystery surrounding the final product, the company is bringing this “AI Pin” to the US market starting November 16. Based on artificial intelligence, the AI ​​pin can write messages, find specific information in the mailbox or answer any question, thanks to the integration of ChatGPT in its system. As a productthe first voice», is mainly oriented towards voice control. However, you have to press a small button before you can talk to him, and the LED lights up when the camera or microphone is active. Some functions are controlled by a mini laser projector that displays information on the palm, but the AI ​​Pin does not have the functionality needed to display classic smartphone apps.

Starting price: $699, or roughly €643, with an additional $24 monthly subscription fee. A product that wants to be innovative. And for good reason, its two thinking heads are none other than former Apple employees.

It was founded by former Apple executives

Humane was created in 2018 by Bethany Bongiorno, former director of operating systems for iOS and MacOS, and Imran Chaudhri, engineer and designer of the iPhone, iPod, iPad and Apple Watch. The two, now married, spent more than 20 years working for the Apple brand before leaving their positions. They met in 2008 at Apple and worked together until their departure in 2016. A few years later, the Humane project was born.

“This might help me get over my iPhone guilt”

José Benitez Cong, former CEO of Apple, now at Humane

And these are not the only big heads coming out of the Cupertino company. The start-up also counts on its staff Patrick Gates, former director of engineering for the iCloud, FaceTime and Messages interface, or Ruben Caballero, vice president of engineering. José Benitez Cong, a longtime Apple executive who was considered retired, joined Humane after being “appalled at what the iPhone has done to society”noting that his son can imitate the movement “steal» at the age of one year. When he started his new job, he said The New York Times that “this might help him overcome his guilt about working on the iPhone.”

A journey that fits in with the ambition of the creators of AI PIN, who want to reduce dependence on screens in everyday life. Their teams want to create “more humane technology», we can read on their pages. But the company does not expect AI PIN to completely replace smartphones, as it admits to the American magazine Wired . The founders themselves are not completely detached from their devices. “Are we using less phones? We use them in different ways,” so implored Imran Chaudhri during a demonstration held at The New York Times.

Microsoft, OpenAI or Qualcomm among the investors

Other big names from Silicon Valley left their prestigious positions to join the start-up. It now includes alumni from Google, Netflix, GoPro and Pixar. Last March, Humane announced its third funding round of $100 million… It has raised a total of $240 million, from Microsoft, Qualcomm, Volvo, LG and the founder of OpenAI, the parent company of ChatGPT, Sam Altman (15% equity ), are among the main investors. Even before the presentation of the product, its value was estimated at 850 million dollars.

So far, AI PIN has been tested by only a few journalists from The New York Times and a specialized site TechCrunch. LOn November 9, the company also released a demonstration video on Xu to introduce its product to the general public. Beneath the post, netizens noted the incorrect information provided by the AI. The badge actually incorrectly represented the viewing location of the previous eclipse, instead of answering the question about the upcoming eclipse. Another mistake related to its camera, capable of analyzing images to, for example, calculate calorie consumption. In the video, the founder asks his badge to calculate the number of proteins in a handful of almonds in his hand. Err, the badge gives him the answer for half a cup of almonds, a completely different amount.

“The launch video had two issues and we are tackling them head on. It is important to note that this video was made with a previous version of the software. We have since resolved those issues.” explained Sam Sheffer, head of social media, on the startup’s Discord server. It also ensures that all such issues will be resolved before users receive their devices. “Our AI architecture is constantly evolving and we will regularly release live updates to improve the user experience”he detailed to the curious on the stand.

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