❤ Humane’s Ai Pin won’t replace your phone, but it should go after the smartwatch



While I think the “Laser Ink Display” projector on the Humane Ai Pin is pretty cool and makes for a very interesting user experience, I do not think this product is anywhere close to replacing the smartphone.






At this point, I think people don’t just like (or even love) their phones. Rather, they expect it as a constant necessity. Its success fundamentally comes down to utility and portability. You can do absolutely everything on it wherever you are with just one hand.

The functionality of the Ai Pin does not come close to that at launch (in early 2024), and I’d argue it never will because it lacks a traditional display that you can tap and type on with your fingers for very precise and prolonged input.

Beyond touch interaction, the screen on a phone reproduces images, text, and UIs with high fidelity. To be painfully obvious, text and icons are remarkably fast to parse and remain on the display so you can gaze and quickly go back (to reread). The same cannot be said of audio, which is Humane’s other interaction method.





Humane would argue that the big ace up its sleeve is AI that summarizes your inbox — if not every app on your phone — and conveys that verbally. The idea of an AI that knows you so well that it can make key decisions about what and what not to tell you is just not close to the caliber of a human assistant. This particular technology might get there eventually, but I don’t think audio is the best or most efficient way to convey that.

The smartphone is the primary computing device for many people today because even a (relatively) small display is enough to let them get everything done. (Meanwhile, what can realistically replace the phone in terms of portability and utility are AR glasses with infinite floating displays.)

The path I do see for the Ai Pin is as a companion device to your phone, like the smartwatch. Basically, I think Humane should have realized and embraced that the phone is here to stay. Even people who like the device as is are going to still carry their phone.

Humane should have made the Ai Pin a device that’s almost like a physical assistant to your phone. Its wearable nature makes it a hands-free device with an indicator light when there are important notifications from your phone. Users can then decide whether they want to take out their phone, or more quickly view it on the laser display.

Meanwhile, the position on your chest gives you a world-facing camera (that smartwatches definitely don’t have today) for unique shots and all the image/object recognition Humane wants to do for food tracking and health.

Logistically, an Ai Pin that’s more of a companion device would not need a cellular (LTE) radio for weight, power, and cost savings, like lowering the monthly subscription price. It also solves the problem of relaying notifications since all the important ones come from your phone. They could have also built a companion app that provides access to their AI chatbot that pulls in data from said notifications and your on-phone calendar, emails, and more.





We’ll see what happens when Ai Pin launches, but I think a pivot towards reality and more practical ambitions would let Humane have a better chance at succeeding.