Beam Me Up Scotty: Humane Demos A Futuristic AI Wearable Straight Out Of Star Trek
Remember the com-badges on Star Trek? Just tap your badge and talk to get any information available to your crewmembers or ship's computer. It's a wonderful fantasy from the 24th century, and maybe it'll be reality if we keep making progress at this rate, because Humane just demoed a device that only seems a few steps away from that.
If you read that and thought "who?" you're not alone. Humane is a company founded by ex-Apple employees that seeks to "build technology that feels familiar, natural, and human." Humane promised last year to show its first products in "Spring 2023" (while criticizing smart glasses for being 'invasive').
Well, the company has apparently made good on that promise at TED by showing off a new independent computing device prototype. It's a curious sort of wearable computer that sits in a breast pocket and has various sensors as well as a small projector. Humane founder Imran Chaudhri demonstrated it live on stage by answering a phone call using call information projected onto his hand, as you can see below.
Humane says its device doesn't require a separate smartphone, and so in that sense it seems to be like a smartphone with specialized capabilities. In another demo, Chaudhri talked about losing focus after a busy day of meetings, and then tapped his breast pocket and asked the device to "catch [him] up." The device proceeded to list off three appointments that were presumably established earlier in the day.
It might seem difficult to imagine using a smartphone-like device without an ever-present visual interface like a touchscreen, but if you think about what's possible with a smart speaker, the whole idea solidifies. The device includes a camera as well as audio sensors, so the projected interfaces could be interactive, or it could be controlled purely by gestures, as Chaudhri did on stage. Letting the mind run free a bit, it becomes easy to fantasize about having an AI assistant riding shotgun and keeping track of appointments and contacts for you automatically.
Of course, there are all kinds of privacy and security concerns with such a device, especially since it likely remains connected to cloud services at all times. Is that really any different from the smartphones we all carry, though? We remain curious about its capabilities. Humane is expected to release the full video of the live stage demo tomorrow.