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World’s First Purpose-Built AI Device is a Screenless, Voice-Activated Smartphone 

VoiceTech, Voice AI, AI, artificial intelligence, Humane

The first commercial device purpose-built for the artificial intelligence (AI) era is here.

And it came from a pair of ex-Apple employees.

No, it’s not that ex-Apple AI device — the rumored Jony Ive and Sam Altman collaboration. But OpenAI CEO Altman is in fact an investor in the company producing it.

The new gadget, which is also a mobile phone, comes from Humane, the brainchild of a married couple who once worked together at Apple and were able to raise nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in funding (around $240 million), acquire 25 patents, and partner with companies from Salesforce and LG to Microsoft, all en route to debuting their unique take on the world’s first AI-specific wearable device, the Ai Pin, on Thursday (Nov. 9).

Orders for the product open up next Thursday (Nov. 16), and the company hopes to ship the first run of devices by early 2024.

Humane’s stated goal, aside from capitalizing on the AI boom, is to “reshape the role of technology” and wean consumers off their addiction to smartphone screens. 

As such, the $699 device (plus a $24 monthly T-Mobile subscription) is a wearable Alexa-style AI operating system that is primarily voice-operated but can project a screen onto surfaces using a laser and has a camera for taking pictures.

This, as Samsung announced on Thursday that it was bringing AI to its own Galaxy phones, stating that “Galaxy AI, a comprehensive mobile AI experience…it will transform your everyday mobile experience.”

The AI wars have officially come to the palm of consumers’ hands. And it will be consumers, along with the market, who will effectively get to decide what the AI device of the future looks like.

Read alsoHow Consumers Want to Live in a Conversational Voice Economy

Consumer-Driven Changes

Most AI interfaces today are text-based, although a growing number of end-users are leveraging voice AI capabilities to engage with the technology.

PYMNTS Intelligence found that 63% of consumers say they would use voice technology if it were as capable as a person, 58% would use voice if it were easier and more convenient than doing tasks manually and 54% would also use it because it is faster than typing or using a touchscreen. 

“Computers can now behave like humans. They can articulate, they can write and can communicate just like a human can,” Beerud Sheth, CEO at Gupshup, told PYMNTS earlier this week (Nov. 7).

And Humane is leaning (heavily) into voice as the best vector to create a more natural way to interact with AI. 

The Ai Pin delivers information via its AI in a conversational way, with prompts, including that to summarize messages, relying on casual commands like “catch me up.”

For the product to scale successfully, its users will need to learn how to navigate its entirely new operating system, Cosmos. Purchasers will also need to be open to changing their phone numbers, as the Ai Pin comes with its own wireless plan.

Humane so far has the first-mover advantage in the AI device space. But its success will ultimately be up to consumers to decide. After all, AI is set to be a huge part of how individuals interact and interface with computers going forward — and there’s no telling what those computers will look like, or what they’ll be able to do. 

See moreAI Copilots Usher in the Service-as-Software Era

Invisible Technology

The most innovative technologies today are increasingly invisible, doing their work in the background while end-users enjoy the benefits friction free. 

And voice is a key avenue for this style of seamless interfacing, as digital-first consumers embrace innovations that are able to integrate intuitive, simple and connected elements into their everyday routines.

For example, on Tuesday (Nov. 7) Walmart and conversational AI company Native Voice announced their recent collaboration to bring voice AI to vehicles without Bluetooth connectivity. 

Additionally, PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster explored the rise of connected car commerce earlier this year in a conversation with Mercedes pay CEO Nico Kersten, whose company had recently rolled out its in-car payment service.

“The best way to deliver an experience is not to have a [payments] experience in the first place…The future is really automation, as you won’t have to think about what you need to pay, or when,” Vineeth Subramanyam, managing director and global head of Spring by Citi, told PYMNTS in a separate conversation. “And that means more of your life will be automated, which is the pinnacle of a good experience.”

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