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The Smartphone’s Uncertain Future: Silicon Valley’s Perplexity Continues

Humane commenced the shipment of its AI Pin in April.

This week marked the unveiling of the most recent endeavor to challenge the dominance of smartphones. Humane, a startup established in 2018, introduced an AI pin as an alternative option. Despite reviews indicating that it falls short of being a smartphone-killer.

The tech industry in Silicon Valley is grappling with envisioning a future beyond smartphones. Since the groundbreaking debut of the iPhone by Apple nearly two decades ago in 2007, no other product has captivated people’s attention quite like the portable device.

Smartphone sales continue to soar, with shipments increasing by 7% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2023 to 323.2 million units. This growth underscores the continued strong demand for devices that have become integral to people’s daily lives.

However, despite their popularity and utility, there is a growing impetus to explore life beyond smartphones. The lack of significant innovation with each new release, concerns about children’s mental well-being due to excessive screen time, and the addictive nature of these devices have prompted a quest for alternatives.

Various companies have endeavored to introduce substitutes to smartphones. While Google’s attempts in the 2010s were unsuccessful, Meta is now striving to offer a more refined alternative. In the era of artificial intelligence, a new player is seeking to revolutionize wearable technology with the introduction of AI-enabled pins.

Unfortunately, the pursuit of a post-smartphone future seems to hit a roadblock with this latest innovation. Humane, founded in 2018 by Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, former Apple executives, has been diligently developing an AI-powered wearable pin that promises smartphone functionalities without the perpetual screen engagement.

Despite the impressive promotional video showcasing the capabilities of Humane’s AI Pin, some viewers have noted inaccuracies in the device’s information. While the pin claims to handle calls, messages, information queries, media capture, note-taking, and digital organization, its recent launch reveals that smartphone users are likely to remain tethered to their screens.

Priced at $699 in the US and hailed as the inception of “ambient computing” by its creators, the Humane AI Pin has received scathing reviews. Critics have described it as an intriguing yet unfinished concept plagued by numerous flaws, such as the absence of essential features like an alarm, unreliable call connectivity, and erratic music streaming.

Furthermore, users have reported issues with Humane’s cloud storage integration and the AI functionality designed to enhance the pin’s utility. Despite its sleek design, the device has been criticized for overheating problems and overall performance issues.

Notably, industry veteran and Apple expert, , predicts that smartphones will persist longer than anticipated. Even Bongiorno, co-founder of Humane, acknowledges that the smartphone will remain a staple for the foreseeable future, as no successor has managed to supplant its position.

Apple, a key player in the tech landscape, has recently ventured into new hardware territory with the introduction of the $3,500 Vision Pro mixed-reality headset. This move underscores the company’s strategy to complement its iPhones rather than replace them entirely.

In conclusion, the era of lighter pockets devoid of smartphones seems distant on the horizon.