Humane AI Pin review roundup: an undercooked flop that’s way ahead of its time

The Humane AI Pin is a fascinating little device for gadget fans. If you missed its reveal in November 2023, it's a tiny wearable computer with a built-in AI assistant, camera, and a little projector that blasts its UI onto your hand. Unfortunately, it's also pretty terrible, according to the internet's first reviews, which have landed in the past few days.

It's rare for tech reviews, from both traditional media and YouTubers, to be so unanimous in their criticism of a much-hyped product. “The worst product I've ever reviewed… for now” concluded Marques Brownlee. Ouch. Meanwhile, Engadget branded it “the solution to none of technology's problems”, while The Verge simply said that the AI Pin was “not even close”.

Naturally, these scathing verdicts create some added fascination about a $ 699 device that also requires a $ 24-a-month subscription. Yet few of the reviews think the AI Pin is completely without merit. Many praise its hardware design, which is solid aluminum and clips to your chest thanks to a magnetic 'battery booster' that goes inside your clothing. On the few occasions that it did work seamlessly, it also gave reviewers a little glimpse of a refreshingly screen-less future.

A person wearing the Humane AI Pin on a camouflaged jacket

(Image credit: Humane)

But beyond the specific features – many of which don't seem to work reliably enough yet – the most interesting thing about these Humane AI Pin reviews is their broad conclusions about AI gadgets. In short, our phones aren't going anywhere for a long time, and, as Bloomberg's review concluded, “the AI device revolution isn't going to kill the smartphone”. We haven't yet reviewed the Rabbit R1, but that will probably hold true for a while yet.  

This doesn't mean that the Humane AI Pin isn't a fascinating (if deeply flawed device) today. Here are all of the internet's thoughts on the boldest tech launch since the Apple Vision Pro

Humane AI Pin: the key reviews

Marques Brownlee: “The worst product I've ever reviewed…for now”

Despite the scathing headline, Marques Brownlee's report on his time with the AI Pin is typically fair and even-handed. Unfortunately, he simply couldn't find many positives, aside from the design. “The build of this thing is actually impressive”, he says of the solid, aluminum gadget. Unfortunately, it's also “bad at almost everything it does”.

That list includes answering your voice queries, where it's either painfully slow (given most requests go to the cloud) or “just wrong all the time”. The battery life was also strangely inconsistent, and the device was worryingly warm a lot of time. But the fundamental issue, a theme across most of the reviews, is that everything the AI Pin does, a “modern smartphone does better and faster”. Without connecting to your smartphone or offering any apps, the AI Pin is strangely adrift.

The Good

  • Solid build quality
  • Translation feature has promise
  • Impressive engineering

The Bad

  • Too slow at giving answers
  • Poor, inconsistent battery life
  • Overheating issues
  • Wrong all the time
  • No apps

Mrwhosetheboss: “It's not good”

Tech YouTuber Arun Maini, AKA Mrwhosetheboss, was clearly conflicted in his review between the “small twinges of something magical” he could see in the Humane AI Pin and the unworkable reality of using it. “As of right now, the Human Pin is an incredibly poor proposition” he concluded.

As other reviews noted, it all goes downhill after you see the hardware. The price (which works out at $ 1,700 over two years, when you factor in the subscription, accessories, and taxes), slow responses to voice requests, lack of integration with existing phone apps, and impractical projector interface were all black marks. 

As Maini notes, a more sensible setup would surely be for the AI Pin to connect to your phone – like the best smartwatches – rather than act as a standalone device. All of this led him to conclude that he can't see “a single angle from which it makes sense”.

The Good

  • Construction is top-notch
  • No wake words needed
  • Vision feature is satisfying

The Bad

  • Too expensive
  • Requests take too long
  • Doesn't talk to existing apps
  • Projector not bright enough

CNET: “Futuristic but frustrating”

CNET's hands-on review of the AI Pin contains a nice nod to the Star Trek Communicator badge that the pin is seemingly inspired by, but that's one of the few moments of levity in a review that cautions, you “definitely not” consider buying it in its current form.

The video is more of a whistlestop tour of the AI Pin's features – including the built-in camera for taking photos and 15-second videos – than a real deep-dive into living with it. But there are lots of useful real-world examples of using the wearable, including its promising translation feature and uncut takes of how long it often takes to respond.

There are also some familiar conclusions; overheating, the laser display not being bright enough in daylight, underwhelming AI features, and the hand-tracking interface being frustrating and worse than on a VR headset. In short, it's frustrating and CNET said there are times when the AI Pin has driven it crazy.

The Good

  • Sleek design
  • Well-conceived accessories
  • Decent battery life

The Bad

  • Overheating issues
  • Too frustrating for everyday use
  • Can't connect to your phone
  • AI is unreliable 

The Verge: “Not even close”

Frequent bouts of hysterical laughter aren't usually a good sign for a tech review –and sure enough, The Verge found that the AI Pin's promise is completely undermined by its unreliability and its “single biggest problem – it is so, so slow”.

Cue a 13-second wait for it to mis-identify the Brooklyn Bridge and other unintentionally hilarious gaffes. The Verge actually still came away “sort of impressed” by the AI Pin's technology, including the fact that it doesn't need a wake word and promises a world where you can sometimes leave your phone at home.

It also concluded that the Pin “might still be the future, or something like it”, with its camera-based descriptions of real-world objects being “easily the most futuristic thing” about the device. But it's also a “$ 700 gamble” and the damning conclusion is that a cell-connected Apple Watch is a much more capable and functional device, while being a lot cheaper.

The Good

  • Sturdy and nicely made
  • No wake word needed

The Bad

  • Many features not yet available
  • Very slow at responding
  • Doesn't always work

Bloomberg: “The design and interface are fatally flawed”

The Humane AI Pin on a shirt

(Image credit: Humane)

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman is an Apple reporter who notes that Humane's co-founders are former Apple staffers who worked on the iPhone and iPad, which gave them a leg-up when it came to investment. But despite its promising backstory, he concludes that the AI Pin's “fundamental design and interface are fatally flawed”.

Gurman's conclusion is that the bugs and slow response times aren't the AI Pin's main problem. Instead, the voice control and laser projection system make it “a nonstarter for most people”. He notes that smart speaker and voice assistant hype has died down because they're not a “practical user interface”.

So while Gurman concludes, like most of the early reviews, that Humane deserves credit for creating something new and creating a system that “aggregate data from several AI engines”, the concept is ultimately doomed to failure and is “never going to work”.

What next for the Humane AI Pin?

The Humane AI Pin on an orange background

(Image credit: Humane)

Understandably, Humane has defended its new gadget from the wave of scathing reviews. Ken Kocienda, the company's Head of Product Engineering and the inventor of the iPhone's autocorrect, posted a lengthy statement on X (formerly Twitter) about why he's a “happy AI Pin user” and why his “intuition tells me that we are on track”.

Kocienda admits that the AI Pin can be “frustrating sometimes”, but apparently no more than a laptop or smartphone. That isn't the conclusion from the internet's first reviews from multiple sources, but the Humane designer also blames the social media landscape for encouraging “hot takes” and encouraging people to “jump on the skepticism bandwagon”.

So what next for the AI Pin? Humane does have a roadmap for new features, with timers, gesture unlock, photo sharing via SMS, and more coming in software version 1.2, which is scheduled for “Summer”. Other features like number sharing, visual shopping, and an SDK for apps are also in the pipeline, but don't yet have a date.

As it stands, the current consensus for the Humane AI Pin is that it's simply too ambitious for its form factor and current technology – including the problem that AI tends to 'hallucinate' or confidently give incorrect answers. For now, the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses and Rabbit R1 look like more promising examples of AI gadgets, but we'll be keeping an eye on AI Pin to see if it can overcome its inauspicious start. 

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Apple Vision Pro review roundup: here’s what everyone thinks of the Apple headset

The first batch of Apple Vision Pro reviews has dropped, giving us a look at what it’s like to use the headset beyond the 20 to 30-minute demos Apple has run for it previously.

The Vision Pro preorders aren’t set to arrive for weeks after the headset releases on February 2 – and we strongly advise you not to buy one of the preorders being sold on eBay for ridiculously high markups. But if you’ve been on the fence about buying Apple's mixed reality device, now is a good time to find out more about it and decide if it’s worth the $ 3,500 asking price.

Interestingly, a lot of the reviewers seem to be in agreement so far. The capabilities of the headset are apparently superb, with 3D spatial video and the intuitive eye and face-tracking control system being standouts. But the price does feel steep, especially as the Vision Pro is only at its best if you’re already deep in the Apple ecosystem with gadgets and peripherals like a Mac, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse.

Here’s our round-up of all of the full Apple Vision Pro reviews published so far.

Apple Vision Pro reviews

Tom's Guide: “A revolution in progress”

For Mark Spoonauer, the global editor-in-chief of our sister site Tom's Guide, the standout features of the Vision Pro are its eye and hand-tracking interface – which he called “amazing” – and the 3D spatial video playback, which our own Lance Ulanoff called an “immersive trip”.

Design-wise the Vision Pro was also solid, though Spoonauer noted that he had to take regular breaks from wearing the device because of the Vision Pro’s weight. The tethered battery that powers the Vision Pro could also be “annoying at times.”

Some of the software also feels like it's “still in the early stages,” with the App Store missing several notable apps at launch, and Personas (a digital stand-in for Vision Pro wearers) are “a bit unnerving to look at.”

He added that the expensive price limits the headset's initial appeal, though Spoonauer hopes Apple has a lower-cost version on the way as the Vision Pro is “the most innovative Apple product since the original iPhone.”

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Eye and face-tracking “puts the competition to shame” 
  • It’s a “multitasking champ” 
  • Immersive environments full of detail 

The Bad

  • Had to take periodic breaks because of the weight 
  • Very expensive
  • Tethered battery is “annoying” at times

WSJ: “All the characteristics of a first-gen product”

The Wall Street Journal's review is a very real-world summary of the Vision Pro's current strengths and weaknesses, with reporter Joanna Stern wearing it “nearly nonstop” for one of the testing days.

The main takeaway is that the Vision Pro is a very first-gen product that “you’re probably not going to buy”. As the review concludes, “it’s big and heavy, its battery life sucks, there are few great apps and it can be buggy”. 

Okay, so is it actually good at anything yet? Broadly speaking, feeling very sci-fi in a Minority Report sense and also being, as Stern states, “the best mixed-reality headset I’ve ever tried”. That seems to be broadly due to experiences like watching films and or your own home 3-D movies, rather than real-world productivity. 

Stern states in the review that she only “started getting real work done once I paired the Vision Pro with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse”, rather than using the built-in virtual keyboard. In other words, it feels more like a face-mounted iMac than a next-gen computer right now.

While “getting around is intuitive”, there are lots of niggles. For example, “at times, the Vision Pro’s eye tracking didn’t respond to my movements” and Stern had to “charge every two to three hours”. During FaceTime calls, friends and family concluded that the reporter looked “awful” and “frightening”. Like all mixed-reality headsets then, the Vision Pro is very much a work in progress.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Best AR/VR headset so far
  • Intuitive interface
  • Great built-in speakers

The Bad

  • Headset is heavy
  • Virtual keyboard is limited
  • Few great apps

The Verge: “the best consumer headset anyone’s ever made” 

The Verge’s editor-in-chief Nilay Patel gave the Apple Vision Pro a score of seven out of 10 in its review, calling it “an astounding product” with “a lot of tradeoffs”

App-wise, Patel says it’s “not totally wrong” to call the Vision Pro an iPad for your face. Most of the software that’s currently available are ported over from iPadOS, and most of them work like iPad apps, too. As Patel notes this means the Vision Pro is lacking when it comes to “true AR” software – that is software that has AR elements blend in and interact with the real world like, say, First Encounters on the Meta Quest 3.

Patel adds that the “iPad for your face” comparison continues to the weight of the thing – pointing out that at 600 to 650 grams it's not far from the weight of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (at 682 grams). Wearing the dual loop strap can help, but he says you can’t “reduce the overall sensation of having all that headset on your face.”

The heavy package does come with some impressive specs, however, with an “incredible display,” “convincing” video passthrough, and an M2 and R1 processor for handling any apps you throw at it. But at the end of the day, Patel doesn’t believe that using a computer in the “inherently isolating” world of VR is better than using a regular computer that doesn’t cut you off from the world around you.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Fantastic display
  • Best passthrough on a headset
  • “Stunning” design

The Bad

  • Isolating
  • Tracking “works until it doesn’t”
  • A lot of tradeoffs

CNET: “A mind-blowing look at an unfinished future”

CNET's lengthy Vision Pro review is one of the more misty-eyed ones so far, which isn't surprising given reporter Scott Stein has been writing about mixed reality for over a decade. The conclusions about Apple's headset are familiar though; “parts of it are stunning, others don't feel entirely finished”.

Despite its many impressive moments, CNET concludes that the Vision Pro is “clearly not a device you need to get on board with now”. After only 30 minutes, “the headset feels top-heavy and pushes in on my cheeks a bit”, although it apparently works fine for short sessions.

The apps selection is also very limited right now. While “the App Store shows Vision Pro-optimized apps” the “pickings are slim”. Still, “the closest thing to a killer app the Vision Pro has is its cinema-level video playback” the review concludes. Stein says that The Way of Water looks lovely and “sometimes gives me chills”.

While the Vision Pro is “most advanced blend of mixed reality in a standalone device that I've ever experienced”, it's also blighted by the limitations highlighted by other reviews. These include some inconsistent hand- and eye-tracking, a “limited battery life” and a field of view that “feels a bit smaller than the Meta Quest 3”.

So while the Vision Pro is a “stunning look at the future”, it's also “still essentially an iOS computer inside a mixed reality VR headset”.

In a nutshell

The Good

  • Amazing micro-OLED display
  • Blends real and virtual well
  • Personal 3D memories

The Bad

  • Not many apps
  • Interface isn't always perfect
  • Extremely pricey

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Energy news round-up: energy bills set to rise by almost £100, plus more from the last seven days

This week in energy: COVID-19 continues to impact energy customers in the UK in various ways, with warnings of a surprise energy bill at the end of the summer. We've also seen precautionary measures by energy suppliers to support prepaid meter customers; Bristol City Council’s intended sale of Bristol Energy after it ran up a major loss; and more. Here's our round-up of what happened in energy in the last seven days…

Customers could face surprise energy bills of around £94

Research conducted by Energy Helpline has reported that UK energy customers could be faced with a surprise £94 energy bill by the end of the summer. That's due to above-average energy consumption, thanks to the lockdown. 

It seems that Brits have been consuming 30 per cent more energy than normal, while direct debits remain calculated on the basis of pre-lockdown usage. In some cases this could lead to customers being trapped in a debt-spiral. 

The best way of resolving this, of course, is to run an energy comparison and switch energy supplier to take advantage of a cheaper energy deal. However, Energy Helpline is also advising customers to fit energy efficient lightbulbs, take shorter showers and avoid appliances being left on standby. 

Assistance for prepaid meter customers

Money Saving Expert (MSE) has advised this week that some people who are self-isolating may experience difficulty in topping up their prepaid meters, but a number of energy companies have said they will assist if necessary. 

The Government and energy suppliers have agreed to implement a set of emergency measures specifically to assist prepaid meter customers. These measures include the provision of cards loaded with emergency credit, adding discretionary credit to meters and enabling others to top meters on behalf of those using them. Ofgem has also said it expects providers to support prepaid meter customers, including those in vulnerable circumstances. 

Vulnerable customers can also join the Priority Services Register in order to receive various services for free, including advanced notice of planned power cuts, priority support in emergencies and regular meter reading services. 

Coronavirus impacts on smart meter installation

MSE has also reported that energy providers have temporarily suspended the installation of smart meters in homes during the lockdown period. This means that engineers will only attend homes if there is an emergency situation, for example involving a loss of energy supply. 

However, as lockdown restrictions are eased, providers will again allow engineers to attend homes for meter installation. E.on, Npower, Ovo and SSE have all resumed installation, but this is only in England and only on a limited basis. Clearly, they will not install a meter in any household where someone is self-isolating, at higher risk or has experienced symptoms over the last month or so. 

Providers are also letting customers know that an engineer will only attend their home where residents feel comfortable with them doing so. 

Bristol City Council to sell Bristol Energy

BBC News and other media have reported that Bristol City Council will now sell its council-owned company Bristol Energy following losses of more than £30 million. Some councillors have called for an inquiry into the matter, which has also been the subject of considerable discussion on social media. 

The council finally took the decision to sell Bristol Energy following a recommendation from accountant Ernst and Young. Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said that he was disappointed that it hadn’t worked.

  • Read more: BBC

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