The state of consumer hardware

April 30, 2024

3 min read

The state of consumer hardware

When the announcement for the Humane AI pin was first made, I, like many of you, rushed to their website to see big names from Apple. This led to some initial hope that maybe a new product category might be born. $700 and a month subscription later… I just have one question. Couldn't this have just been an app?

The Vision

A future with no phones? I do not think there would ever be a future with no mobile phone because we have created a device that is essentially a very capable computer produced at scale that can run most third-party apps and with some tinkering can even run different operating systems already in the hands of billions of people.

It would be to my understanding and any new hardware should complement the already existing smartphone and extend its capabilities in unique and interesting ways. For example, a Humane pin that when paired with an iPhone gives it a voice assistant better than Siri and maybe some other hardware benefits, like a better speaker or improved battery life. The idea here is the hardware should improve one significant hardware feature of the phone.

The Reality

In reality, both the Humane AI pin and the Rabbit R1 fail to deliver on any of this. The Rabbit, being more reasonably priced at $200, is much more of a toy and a collectible than a real device that can be used in any significant way better than the phone at its current iteration. The hopes of the large action model LAM and should in theory allow Rabbit use apps on your behind wasn't launched with this version and only works for a few selected apps albeit very buggy right now.

The State of Consumer Hardware

I personally, as a builder, love the idea consumer hardware but as of right now I think it should be highly complementary to the smartphone we all already have, which might mean an app that communicates with the device over network, Bluetooth, or WiFi and have the phone handle “most” of the compute.

I love that AI is opening up interesting consumer hardware, But I would also love to encourage builders to take the time beta testing your tech with a close group of users and ensure they are satisfied before launching.

I do realize there was a rush to launch before Google's and Apple's events later this year but these could have also been launched next year with better software and much better AI.

Regardless, I love the attempts and I hope the ecosystem learns and grows and, most importantly, builds something people love.

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