For three decades, we’ve watched the evolution of human-computer interface technology evolve.
It started with the desktop. And it evolved into the laptop, then the smartphone, then the smartwatch.
The question many are wondering is… What comes next?
An AI startup is claiming the next leap in technology won’t be a wearable headset like the Oculus or Apple Vision. It claims the tech won’t have a screen at all.
It’ll be a pin.
Humane is a tech startup that believes AI has the power to divorce us from screens.
That’s a bold mission. It’d be easy to dismiss it outright. But I think Humane may be onto something big here.
Unlike the current lineup of smart devices like phones or watches, Humane’s pin isn’t another iteration of an old idea. It’s using AI to take an innovative approach to wearable devices.
First, let’s cover what Humane’s AI pin claims to do.
Last May, Humane featured its AI pin during a TED talk.
During the 14-minute presentation, co-founder Imran Chaudhri used the pin to take a call, review emails, and get shopping recommendations.
What was incredible is that the pin doesn’t have a screen. All you have to do is talk to it.
It uses AI to understand what you’re saying and follow your commands.
The AI pin is not publicly available yet. But based on the information released, it’ll be able to use AI to do some work tasks like summarize emails and craft a response for you.
Chaudhri was a designer and inventor at Apple for over 20 years. He worked on projects like the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch. And he’s named on thousands of patents.
I have to imagine that some of his inspiration for a voice-directed AI pin came from Siri, Apple’s digital assistant.
Humane’s AI pin is supposed to take it a step further by learning about you and tailoring even more personalized responses.
Even though it lacks a screen, it can present some visual information. Chaudhri featured the mini-projector by screening a call from his wife during the TED call.
A full list of features isn’t available yet. Humane’s next big reveal is on October 14.
But even with just this one demo, what speaks to me about this project is that it holds the potential to make our lives better.
A Little Less Screen Time
As great as smartphones are, they’re feeding an unhealthy addiction to screen time.
The average American spends seven hours looking at a screen per day… be that from a TV, laptop, or phone. That’s about 40% of our waking hours.
It’s even worse for younger Americans. Gen Z, people aged between 11 and 26, spend nine hours per day looking at a screen. Much of this time is spent on social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.
This isn’t an accident. Companies like Facebook, Google, and ByteDance try to make apps addicting. Likes, never-ending feeds, and pinging notifications are all features used to keep your eyes on the screen.
And this isn’t just me saying this. Back in 2017, the founding president of Facebook, Sean Parker, said:
[Facebook functions by] exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.
God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.
The more time you spend on their platforms, the more ads they can serve you, and the more money they can make.
The AI pin offers an alternative. It allows us to stay connected online and harness the power of AI. But it gives us the chance to be face-to-face with loved ones, co-workers, and friends. It offers us the chance to lift our heads 45 degrees away from our phones for a few hours more a day.
We have a decision to make with AI. We can use it to further our addiction to screen time. Or we can use it to emancipate us.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not going to totally eliminate screens. Most white-collar jobs require a screen. A pin – no matter how smart – isn’t going to replace that. But if we can take back some of that screen time during non-working hours, I’d consider that a big win.
Humane, the company behind the AI pin, isn’t publicly traded. It raised $100 million last March from the likes of Microsoft, Salesforce, and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI. That put it at an $850 million market cap.
That’s a rich valuation for a company that hasn’t shipped a single pin yet. But its innovative tech and AI-heavy backers tell me that Humane is going to be a company we hear more of in the future.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge