I have written about the Humane Ai Pin twice before, once when the product was first announced in November, and the other in March, when the company released a video walkthrough of the device’s features. Now, reviews are in, both on YouTube and the web, and they’re scathing. The Ai Pin is — and I cannot stress this enough — utter garbage, and that isn’t me jesting. To support this claim, here are some quotes from reviewers who have had time with the pin:

“It’s a nightmare.” — Arun Maini, Mrwhosetheboss

“It’s just frustrating.” — Michael Fisher, MrMobile

“It’s futuristic if the future sucked.” It “solves nothing and makes me feel stupid.” — Cherlynn Low, Engadget

“It just doesn’t work.” — David Pierce, The Verge

That is just a small snippet of criticism this device has received in just one day of reviews. I agree with these reviewers — this product lacks conviction, lacks a path to success, and doesn’t even do what it is advertised to do. As one commenter on YouTube put it, it feels like a late April Fools’ Day joke. It costs as much as a mid-range smartphone at $700, requires a mandatory $24 monthly subscription to function as anything more than a paperweight1, and relies on the whims of artificial intelligence to do literally anything. And the times when it does do something, it does it wrongly, misidentifying landmarks, such as in Pierce’s review, or making up information, as shown in Fisher’s video.

AI software can be refined and tweaked over time2. What can’t, however, is the very design premise of this gadget. Its primary method of interaction is a loudspeaker that is bound to annoy everyone around, and connecting to a Bluetooth headset requires interacting with a flawed, frustrating laser projector. Reviewers have described the projector as annoying, hard to use, and simply impossible to view while in daylight. Interacting with content requires learning unintuitive gestures and flailing movements of the arms. Due to this oversight, which I picked up on in November, interacting with this menace of a lapel pin causes arm strain and annoyance.

Also, the battery dies quite frequently, making Humane’s “Perpetual Power System,” i.e., extra batteries, essential to use the product for anything longer than a few hours, according to early tests. And if you do use it for extended periods, it’ll overheat, as Fisher demonstrated during a call with his mother and as Pierce encountered while using the laser projector. These occurrences show that the product is impossible to use most of the time, and is useless when it is possible to use. The onboard camera, used for first-person shots, is low-quality and lackluster, though it is neat in a pinch, but no reasonable nor sane person would say that it is worth $700 and $24 a month.

Humane’s founders, Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhuri, have marketed the Ai Pin as a smartphone companion at the very least, and at times have even come out as more confident after the flopped November launch, calling the product a smartphone replacement at a time of increased distraction. To back up this moot point — people love their phones — Bongiorno has been reposting accounts citing a book with debatable sourcing that claims smartphones are the sole cause of childhood and adolescent depression, when in fact, the rises in these numbers are correlated with the uptake in smartphone use, not caused by it. When confronted with her earlier claims that she marketed the Ai Pin as a replacement for the phone, she flat-out denied it.

Nobody should take these claims seriously because this entire project feels like a scheme for investor money. When the original plan for a more ambitious product failed, Humane pivoted to AI large language models and built this device in four months after the release of ChatGPT in October 2022. Trust the reviewers because they’re experts — and the experts say that the Humane Ai Pin is a worthless piece of garbage. So do I.

  1. Canceling a subscription after purchasing the hardware for $700 will render the Humane Ai Pin entirely useless. It will cease to function entirely without perpetually paying Humane $24 a month. That also means if Humane ever goes out of business, customers will be left with boxes of metal and plastic that cost them $700. ↩︎

  2. “Never ever buy a product based on the promise of future software updates.” — Marques Brownlee, MKBHD ↩︎