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Why I need wearable AI hardware in my life, and why it can’t be cheap

Published Apr 11th, 2024 8:04PM EDT
iPhone 15 Plus Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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I’m a longtime iPhone user, and I’m certain iOS 18 will bring plenty of generative AI features to the smartphone, turning it into an early version of an AI gadget. The iPhone’s AI capabilities will continue to evolve in the coming years to the point where it could become an even more critical computer in my life.

I expect Apple to be among the various companies offering personal AI experiences that go beyond what’s available today. The iPhone could become a true assistant, capable of understanding human language and delivering results based on the user’s needs.

But I just realized I need wearable AI hardware, too. I’m thinking of devices similar to the Humane Ai Pin that’s ready to hit the market or the rumored Jony Ive-Sam Altman company that’s currently raising at least $1 billion to develop the iPhone of artificial intelligence. I’d use such devices in specific cases where the iPhone wouldn’t be enough, no matter how good the AI in iOS gets.

Not only that, but the wearable AI hardware I want has to be expensive because it has to get a few things right.

Soon after Humane announced the Ai Pin, I said I could only see one use for it, and even then, the $799 price seemed too high. I would use the Ai Pin during my runs as I train for marathon races. The wearable AI hardware might help me track my performance. It would let me control music playback, and it could take photos and videos of the sights I might pass by.

Moreover, it would also act as a security device. With a camera on board and cellular connectivity, the Ai Pin is practically a phone replacement that would help me call the police if I ever needed to.

I was just speculating back in November. Fast-forward to mid-April, I ran two incredible trail races at night that I incorporated into my marathon training. I kept thinking about wearing an AI hardware device while running both times, but especially while running in Venice, Italy, by night.

It was the most stunning experience in my admittedly short running career, one I’ll repeat every chance I get. But because I focused mostly on my running, I missed out on really taking advantage of the sights. I could have stopped and taken photos and videos, but that would have defeated the purpose of the race.

I did use the iPhone to capture quick pics, but that wasn’t enough. Not to mention that I’d have to constantly take it out of a pocket and put it back while running.

A person wearing the Humane Ai Pin.
A person wearing the Humane Ai Pin. Image source: Humane

But what if I had worn an AI device attached to my clothes? I could have snapped all the pics I wanted or recorded my run. I’d have done it by voice or via some sort of touch input. I could have used apps to track my run depending on how smart the AI is. And I certainly hope such a product would also give me stats about my running form.

I also realized that such a device needs to have a few top components. It requires a fast processor capable of processing AI prompts quickly and securely. It also needs a proper built-in image processor. The gadget would have to rock high-end camera hardware so it can take great photos and videos at night.

Furthermore, the AI itself needs to be private and secure. I wouldn’t want any of my data to be used to train future AI models or in any other way.

The gadget has to be durable to withstand accidental drops during such experiences. It must also feature great battery life to last through potential hours of continuous use.

Finally, the device must always be connected to the internet so that cloud AI features can continue working. Onboard storage must be decent, though a 5G connection would make cloud storage more useful.

That means the piece of AI hardware I want can’t be cheap if I want it to tick all those boxes.

While I realize my use case remains very limited, I’m certain I’d make the most of it. I might use such a product in other scenarios, sure. But since I’ll be running and entering races for years, I’d certainly put a wearable AI gadget to good use. And it could replace the iPhone for those specific use cases.

It sounds like I’m describing the Humane Ai Pin again, for it would certainly fit my needs. While an Ai Pin hands-on demo impressed me at MWC in February, I won’t get one soon. First of all, it’s not available in Europe. Secondly, I’ll want to see how good the camera is.

What I’m aspiring to is the next-gen wave of AI devices. Maybe the second-gen Ai Pin, and whatever unreleased wearable AI hardware products might be in the works at the time of this writing.

And no, using any sort of action camera to handle the photo aspect of the experience described above wouldn’t be enough.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.