They started selling a smart brooch in the USA: they promise that it will replace smartphones, although it’s hard to believe - ForumDaily
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They started selling a smart brooch in the USA: they promise that it will replace smartphones, although it’s hard to believe

Humane, a new tech startup out of San Francisco, California, has all the industry's favorite ingredients: high-profile, high-dollar backers, co-founders who worked at Apple, and a brilliant artificial intelligence idea centered around a $699 smart brooch that could become replacing our phones. But not everything is as smooth as we would like. What problems did the startup have, the publication told SF Gate.

Photo: IStock

But the presentation video, published on November 9, is a comedy of errors. Among them are those that may be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to artificial intelligence. Not since Magic Leap has a "next-gen" hardware company generated so much hype without showing anything special.

Humane unveiled its device in September on the fashion runway: the Humane AI Pin brooch was worn by Naomi Campbell and other models during the show in Paris. But this star appearance wasn't the only manifestation of Humane's fame: the company reportedly raised $200 million in seed funding from a range of tech investors, including OpenAI's Sam Altman and Salesforce's Marc Benioff.

Ahead of the brooch's public debut, Humane gave a New York Times reporter a demonstration of the technology, which she described as "equal parts magical and strange." But there's a bigger problem than weirdness, at least in the Humane commercial: blatant inaccuracy.

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In the video, company co-founders Imran Chaudhry and Bethany Bongiorno, who are married and previously worked at Apple, stand in a stark white office in San Francisco and demonstrate the capabilities of their brooches.

The device is billed as “screenless,” but it features a 720p laser projection system that acts as a thin monochrome screen that projects a rather rudimentary smartwatch-like user interface onto the hand, he writes. Ars Technica.

The laser is a Class 2 laser, so like the barcode scanner, it is safe if accidentally exposed, but can cause eye damage if stared at.

After demonstrating the laser projection and control of the device, they begin to ask the brooches questions. The idea is that an AI-powered brooch equipped with a camera could become a wearable, screenless alternative to Siri or Google.

Chaudhry presses a button and asks, “When is the next eclipse and where is the best place to see it?” While the device processes the request, Bongiorno explains that the AI ​​crawls web pages and "draws knowledge from the entire Internet."

After a few seconds, he responds: “The next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024.” And it is true. Then: “The best places to watch are Exmouth, Australia, and East Timor.” But, dear reader, don't rush to book your flights to the Southern Hemisphere because, according to NASA, the best views of the April 8 eclipse will be in the north, as the eclipse's path passes through Mexico and Texas to Maine.

It's clear where the misinformation came from: Exmouth and East Timor were popular tourist destinations at the time of the eclipse, which occurred on April 20, 2023. Neither Chaudhry nor Bongiorno appeared to notice the mistake.

A few minutes into the video, Chaudhry says, “With computer vision, AI can recognize objects, and we start with health and nutrition.” He picks up a small handful of almonds—about 15, I think—and asks his brooch, “How much protein?”

“These almonds have 15 grams of protein,” the computer voice replies. According to generally accepted calculations, the brooch was off by 10 grams. Next, Chaudhry demonstrates how he can tell the computer that he will eat almonds, and then ask it how much protein he consumed in total for the day. Judging by the trouble he's having with almonds, the accuracy of the final calculation doesn't seem promising.

The inaccuracies quickly contributed to the press frenzy surrounding the $699 device (which opens for pre-order on November 16th and requires a $24 per month subscription). However, they seem to contradict two of Humane's three stated values: joy, trust and truth. It's as if Google Glass had a baby from a 1990s pager.

Useful and weird

Another seemingly useful but very disturbing feature is that you can force artificial intelligence to look for information in your messages, which sounds absolutely incredible. For example, the question “What gate code did Andrew send me?” he reads the number. This way, the AI ​​has access to all your messages and can sift through them using fuzzy voice search to find what you need.

Replacing a smartphone or not

Although the Humane AI Pin claims to be a smartphone replacement, it takes us back to the dark ages and doesn't support any apps. We've already seen how many devices live and die by their app ecosystems, and the presentation said, "We're not in the app business." You'll be locked into the features and services that Humane has built into the Android-based Cosmos OS.

The lack of an app ecosystem means all your data has to go somewhere, so there's a web portal called .Center that will store photos, notes, history, and nutrition data from your voice assistant.

The lack of a screen means you'll have to work hard to understand what the device is trying to tell you. The device has two different lights, front and top, each of which flashes five or six different colors to convey a different message, so you'll have to memorize 11 color/position combinations.

But the problems don’t end there, because in addition to recognizing the brooch’s signals, you also need to be able to enter information there. There are seven tap or swipe gestures for such manipulations. And it's almost like learning another language.

But what about the laser interface, you ask? It's very simple - it also reads gestures. You can't just pick everything up with your other hand. Imagine that there is a ball in your palm, and if you tilt your hand, the ball will roll in that direction - this is how you select a button. Tapping your thumb and index finger together triggers the function.

Love it or hate it

The only thing that distinguishes this brooch from just a smartwatch is the camera. You'll be constantly pointing the 13MP sensor at everyone and everything, and when you remember how much Google Glass was hated for it, then having a camera is a big minus in the eyes of many people.

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Just like Google Glass, you'll be able to use the camera like a fancy Go-Pro and record everything you do hands-free.

The camera can recognize objects, so you can hold objects in front of your chest and issue voice commands. Some examples seemed implausible, for example, one of them, where the user is holding a book in his hands: “How much does it cost on the Internet?” The robotic voice replies, “It costs $28 online.” “Great, buy it,” the user replies. This ended the demonstration. The real world is much more complex. Who to buy from? Where? Is this a real product or a scam? New book or used? Paperback or hardcover? The robot's voice didn't even confirm that it recognized the book or read the title. There was so little evidence of what was going on in the demo that you could have bought any random rectangular object for $28.

This is just the latest example of strange artificial intelligence behavior. Earlier this year, when Google launched its chatbot Bard, there was also a factual error in the demo video, as The Verge reported at the time. However, one of the advantages of AI products equipped with screens is the ability to include links and fine print. In Google's demo, text appeared on the screen saying that "Bard may provide inaccurate or inappropriate information."

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