Ex-Apple Engineers Develop ‘Disappearing Computer’ in Pin-sized Device
With a wearable projector that acts as a "non-physical smartphone," Humane hopes its flagship computing device will help people stay present in everyday life.
After spending several years quietly building an all-star team, raising funds, and establishing connections with tech partners, startup Humane recently announced the Humane Ai Pin as its first flagship product.
Preview of the Humane Ai Pin. Image courtesy of Humane
The company was founded in 2017 by former Apple employees and husband-wife duo Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno. Chaudhri spent over 20 years with Apple as a designer working on everything from the Macintosh to the Apple Watch, while Bongiorno wore several hats throughout her Apple career, including Director of Software Engineering. The two met while working on the iPad. Today they are Chairman/President and CEO, respectively, of the company.
Humane Snags Major Funding Support
Humane raised $30 million in a Series A funding round in September 2020, followed by $100 million in Series B funding a year later in September 2021. Most recently, the startup secured another $100 million in Series C funding in March 2023. Investors include Qualcomm Ventures, SK Networks, Microsoft, LG Technology Ventures, and Sam Altman.
The objective of Humane appears to be to make technology “screenless, seamless, and sensing”, integrating compute devices so people can be more present in their everyday lives and focus on their human relationships instead of their devices. They see this as the next evolution in computing, taking a different route than a device like a virtual reality headset that replaces our field of view with a screen or the currently ubiquitous smartphone.
Humane Introduces Its First Product: The Humane AI Pin
In a 2023 TED talk, Chaudhri demoed his company's first product: the Humane Ai Pin. The pin fastened to Chaudhri's shirt immediately responded to the founder's verbal queries on where to find a gift for his wife, a summary of tasks for the day compiled from his emails and calendar, and whether Chaudhri could eat a chocolate bar if he were to have certain food intolerances. At one point, the device even translated a phrase from English to French using Chaudhri's own voice.
Chaudhri demos the Humane Ai Pin during a TED Talk. Image used courtesy of TED
The demo walked through many of the features described in a 2020 patent, including a camera that read the chocolate bar wrapper and a depth sensor and projection system that displayed information about an incoming call on Chaudhri's palm.
The pin is a standalone device that does not require smartphone pairing.
The "Disappearing Computer" With Many Features
The patent hints at some future capabilities of the Humane Ai Pin, including an inductive battery that can be magnetically attached to the user’s clothing. It also describes a user scenario in which a user queries what size they should cut a vegetable. Using edge server computing and a camera, the device projects the chopped vegetable width as a reference for the user.
The basic components to be included in the Humane Ai Pin. Image courtesy of the USPTO
The company claims the device is being built from the ground up for AI applications, employing machine learning to evolve with the wearer. Humane has been working with Qualcomm using an unknown Snapdragon chip for AI processing, Microsoft for cloud services, SK Networks for logistics and distribution, and possibly OpenAI for large-language modeling technology.
The startup anticipates an official launch later this year and has a waitlist for priority access.