Humane, the AI startup founded by former OpenAI president Sam Altman, has announced that its much-anticipated AI wearable device called the AI Pin will finally begin shipping to customers in March 2024. This comes after years of hype and anticipation around Humane’s promises to deliver a groundbreaking personal AI assistant.
Overview of the AI Pin
The AI Pin is a small, circular device meant to be worn on a lanyard around the neck. It contains microphones, speakers, and AI processing power to serve as a voice-controlled personal assistant.
Key AI Pin Details:
- Price: $699 for early preorder, $999 regular price
- Size: 3.1 inch diameter, 0.6 inch thick
- Weight: 63 grams
- Battery Life: 2 days
- Storage: 64GB
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth, LTE optional
- OS: Proprietary OS by Humane
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon
- Microphones: 8 high-quality microphones
- Speakers: Custom full range speaker
The AI Pin runs what Humane calls a “general artificial intelligence agent” similar to large AI models like ChatGPT. Users can ask it questions, have conversations, get recommendations, and automate tasks by voice. It is meant to complement or even replace having an assistant app on your phone.
The device caused a lot of initial excitement when announced earlier this year due to being backed by high-profile figures like Sam Altman and Elon Musk. There were also promises of groundbreaking AI capabilities. But after limited demos, details have been scarce, leading to much speculation around whether Humane was all hype.
Shipping Timeline Confirmed
In a December 22nd blog post, Humane CEO Imran Chaudhri confirmed that the AI Pin will start shipping to customers in March 2024. This comes after initially targeting late 2022 when the waitlist opened in April.
The company says they delayed shipping to ensure the AI and hardware met their quality standards before launch. Humane also required more time to manufacture at scale and optimize components like the custom silicon and battery technology.
Updated AI Pin Timeline:
- April 2022: Waitlist opened
- Late 2022: Original target shipping date
- December 2023: Begin notifying waitlist customers
- March 2024: Orders start shipping
Humane has not given specifics on exact shipping quantities or order fulfillment prioritization. But they stated that waitlist customers will be notified about purchasing details before open sales start.
Strong Demand Despite Delays
According to Humane, over 100,000 people signed up on the waitlist to purchase the AI Pin within the first week it was announced. This demonstrates the massive public interest in having an AI assistant built into wearable hardware.
However, some technology commentators have questioned whether interest and sales will remain as strong given Humane’s shipping delays compared to software announcements like ChatGPT. Waitlist signups slowing over time led to theories of diminishing hype.
But Humane claims demand has stayed robust. They say thousands of additional waitlist signups have continued weekly, even amid little marketing after the initial announcement.
Altman also tweeted that delays improved the product, saying: “This is far better than if we’d rushed it out!”
If fulfillment goes smoothly, the AI Pin launching in early 2024 could regain attention and customers – years before competitors can catch up with integrated hardware.
What to Expect with the AI Capabilities
Much speculation exists around how smart and useful the AI behind the AI Pin will actually be for customers. Humane’s announcements have set high expectations.
The star AI researcher Hervé Chastel overseeing the AI team and demos showing real-time conversations increased hype. But current AI assistants have limitations, like ChatGPT’s lack of memory and up-to-date knowledge.
Humane aims to solve these issues for a seamless voice experience with the AI Pin. However, the company remains secretive about technical details, making robustness difficult to evaluate beforehand.
In November, Altman gave a brief update about improvements being worked on:
“Over the last many months we’ve been hard at work making the AI much smarter and more reliable while figuring out how to manufacture the product. We’ve made great progress on both.”
What exactly this “progress” means is unclear. But testing must be promising enough behind the scenes to move forward with launching the AI Pin publicly.
Of course, the ultimate test will be customer experience once shipping begins. Real-world usage will reveal strengths, weaknesses, and how Humane iterates on feedback.
Privacy and Security Safeguards
Wearing an always-on microphone raises logical privacy concerns. Hackers compromising devices is another worry for potential issues like voice data leaks.
Humane claims the AI Pin has security protections built into both hardware and cloud architecture. Having large tech veterans like Altman and Chaudhri leading efforts also brings reputational assurances.
But the company remains private about specifics. Engineering choices balancing utility, privacy, and security won’t be fully clear until experts can inspect production AI Pins. Manufacturing scale and optimizations might also impact safeguards.
Humane does say users have granular control over data sharing options. Voice commands can also disable microphones for peace of mind when needed.
Still, undisclosed specifics mean experts advise cautious optimism about privacy promises until confirmed by audits. Customers will have to weigh tradeoffs themselves once able to use the AI Pin regularly.
Competition Behind and Ahead
Humane remains one of the only companies attempting develop advanced AI capabilities paired with custom hardware. Shipping in early 2024 puts them years ahead of potential future competitors.
Their largest current competition comes from general smart assistants on phones. But companies like Google and Apple don’t offer an integrated experience with Humane’s conversational AI potential.
Niche hardware startups like Wisear and Envision have announced similar voice AI devices. But none claim to match Humane’s marketed platform breadth or have reputable AI talent involved.
Industry analysts predict Humane’s innovations will prompt increased investment into developing alternatives. If the AI Pin succeeds, combining AI assistants with wearables could expand into a major consumer technology subsector.
But established giants slowly entering the space with integrated offerings down the road poses a long-term threat. Humane’s agility and singular focus give them an advantage for now over big tech’s unpredictable roadmaps.
Maintaining pole position requires executing well on shipping promises after long delays – then continuing iterating on feedback in the market.
Outlook if Shipping Goes Smoothly
If manufacturing and fulfillment go according to plan in early 2024, strong demand seems likely to remain for the AI Pin amongst early adopters.
Smooth user experience and compelling AI functionality out the gate would also quell disappointment some waitlist customers expressed from shipment delays.
Assuming initial reactions are positive, Humane could move towards open sales faster while press coverage rekindles broader consumer hype. This could establish the AI Pin as the market leader in integrated conversational AI years before other competitors.
Such momentum could enable Humane to raise more funding if needed while attracting top AI talent. Increased resources would allow improving capabilities over time and exploring form factors like smart glasses down the road.
On the other hand, major fulfillment issues, product defects, or below-expected AI performance pose risks once launching. Lagging competitors could quickly emerge if the AI Pin fails to show enough real-world value from months of secrecy.
But for now, confirmation that orders will finally start moving gives Humane momentum. The startup simply needs to execute capably on long-term promises and vision when the anticipated March 2024 deadline arrives.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.