The human AI bin worked better than I expected — until it didn't

Look, I'm as much of a humanist AI skeptic as the next person. I still think that a wearable, AI-powered assistant suffers from the fact that this-thing-was-an-app. But I finally got to spend some face-to-face time with Pin this morning, and you know what? This is a fantastic gadget. It's buried under such a thick layer of marketing that it's hard to appreciate what humanity could really be if it weren't so self-centered.

If you spend time on tech threads or the like, you probably already know what the pin does: clip it to your shirt, talk to it, and use AI to respond. It's a complete device with its own SIM card, and no screen – just vibrations. It's also a tiny laser that projects menus and text into the palm of your hand, so you can interact with little things like Wi-Fi settings and media playback controls.

The stylus projects menus into your palm, and some basic gestures act as controls.

The idea, which was reiterated as we watched two humanities workers run through various demos, was that it's about helping you connect when you're a little disconnected—less staring at screens and more living in the moment. AI helps pull relevant bits from your calendar and email, and answers your questions when you're curious about the world around you.

That's pretty cool, but let's be real: it's not a philosophy, it's a gadget. Gadgets are fun, useful, and frustrating — and all of the above apply to the humanistic pin.

The AI ​​back was really impressive at times. There is a The vision feature uses the camera to scan the scene in front of you, analyze what's there and describe it aloud while listening. I stood in front of a humanities speaker when he tried this feature, and obviously, the pin knocked it out. It described Mobile World Congress is an “indoor event or exhibition of people moving.” Easy enough.

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But it also pointed to the name Qualcomm on the sign behind me and, reading the badge around my neck, identified me as ” on the edge.” One more, but pretty impressive when you consider I wasn’t standing near the pin and the lighting was dim.

The hooded sweatshirts worn by the Humans staff on the show don't seem to be pin-pulling, but I'm not sure how a thin cotton shirt would look.

Gesture navigation was also impressive – more fluid and responsive than I thought it would be. I'm not allowed to put the pin on myself, and it's hard to get the laser in the right place to direct it into your hands because it's really a user device. I tried. But the two humanities staff demoing the product, obviously with a lot of training, navigated the programmed menus quickly and easily by simply tilting their hands and tapping two fingers together.

But the pin isn't immune to what gadgets often do: cheat the hell out of it. Most of the AI ​​isn't on-device, so you'll be waiting a solid few seconds for responses to your requests and questions — not helped by the conference center's spotty connection. On one occasion it shut down after briefly flashing a warning that it overheated and needed to cool down. The employee demoing the pin to me said that this doesn't happen very often and that the laser may have been used regularly for demonstration purposes. I hope so, but still, it's a device to sit close to your chest and take with you to various environments, presumably including hot ones. not good!

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Crisp text in your hand will never look as good as it does on OLED.

The laser projection is clearer than I thought it would be, but it's still light in the palm of your hand. The arms are not uniformly flat, and it is difficult to keep them still. The text dances in front of you, though it's not difficult to read There is Harder than reading text on a smartphone.

It's impossible to imagine what it would be like to live with that thing in a convention center hall. Can a cotton shirt hold its weight? How easy is the laser to see outdoors in direct sunlight? Will people understand why the “light of hope” shines? Does the pin ever make things, and how does some AI tend to? I have more questions than answers, but at least I think I have more Zero Now answers that I saw with my own eyes.

AI Bin is a gadget, not a lifestyle.

That's my initial impression of the pin Something There, but it isn't The matter. And the problem is that all of Human's marketing has created it That object. It was first introduced in a TED talk. Human's Sai Company told me that the AI ​​isn't intended to replace the smartphone. But it has its own data connection, its own monthly subscription fee, and its own smartphone-esque price of $699. And its… No Need to replace your phone?

I feel that whatever lies ahead of us in mobile computing is not exactly AI behind what I saw demonstrated today. I want to do a lot more testing when the pin officially arrives in April. Meanwhile, I didn't exactly see the future, but I saw an amazing gadget – don't take it too seriously.

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Photo by Alison Johnson/The Verge

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