I came across the launch video for the AI pin recently and it had me intrigued. As a person who has watched a fair share of Star Trek, it immediately reminded me of the Star Trek communicator badge. Activated with the same tapping mechanism. The nifty laser projection did raise an eyebrow. Interesting UI and UX experience. But how would such a thing work outdoors? Understandably it was monochrome being a laser projection – but that posed an interesting question, what would it take to do a colour display? Sure the gesture navigation looks interesting and with improvements in VR, gestures will become a whole new field of UX design. But how tedious will it be to use those gestures, or keep tapping your pin?
The AI pin from Humane, is a device that reminds me of an amalgamation of a number of different technologies. You can’t help not comparing it with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant or Apple’s Siri. And with those two already having worked their way into different households, do we really need another assistant?
There is a general amount of distrust that is connected with Artificial Intelligence driven experiences these days and with good reason. Would you want an AI to collect all this personal data about yourself. Having AI baked into an existing experience is one thing. But wearing a device that starkly reminds you that it is a solely AI powered experience is a very different cup of tea. Even if you didn’t have any inhibitions, would people really want to explicitly wear an extra device, when what this device did could mostly be done in some form or the other using an existing smartphone? Or a fitness tracker. Or a smart watch. Or earbuds with a voice assistant baked in. And therein is both problem and premise. This hopes to be that one device that delivers what each of those other experiences are delivering today. In a very tiny form factor. Would you be comfortable enough in the substitution and would it liberate you from your other devices is the question.
The one standout feature though for me is the pin’s translation function. I remember marvelling at Google’s in-ear headphones having a translation option, allowing it to translate speech. But the problem with that experience, was it required both parties to be having earbuds. Similar to what you see in the United Nations. The AI pin’s solution however is more, unique. It auto detects languages, translates and uses its speaker plays back answers, apparently without a prompt.
I am sure the company behind the AI pin hopes that the device becomes your second brain. Storing all your tiny tit bits of information and weaving them altogether as your personal assistant always in your ear. The question really is, don’t we do that with our phones these days? Do we really need this device? Will it take off or will it pass like a ship in the night, sailing off to wherever all dead gadgets go too. Time will tell.