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Will wearable AI tech be a trojan horse?
We're reaching peak bling-bling, it's so over
In a matter of days, we saw a load of wearable AI devices hit the X/Twitter stream.
And while some are aesthetically beautiful, do they really solve problems we face as mere mortals or are we simply designing ourselves into oblivion—creating more problems than we are trying to address?
Before we dive in, we have a special announcement!
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When: Wednesday, October 25 @ 6:00PM - 9:00PM
Where: At Soho House on South Congress
What: a night full of great talks and networking! Maybe even a Framer challenge with a prize!
Who: For designers, creatives, tech enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs! Max headcount allowed is 50 so hurry to sign up if you’d be available!
AI Pin by Humane
Humane has been sharing bits and pieces of their device at various events such as Ted and now this fashion runway. And while I think we all admire in a sense their move for delivering this message to the mass markets, it was not a resounding success.
People are more upset that they announced the device first at a TedTalk rather than a keynote (why people get upset at things like this blows my mind)
The runway event feels like this is, and appears so, to be a high-end device that won’t be cheap, leading to an “elitism” status.
It’s fascinating to see how their approach worked. Some called their TedTalk an antiquated presence on stage (I’d agree). But beyond their general communication about the AI Pin—what a dumb name—it has yet to prove its value other than being a projecting, listening, speaker that sounds like you (which is now AI text-to-speech available anywhere).
I’ll have to admit—I almost worked on this device, but cut my interview short due to having to relocate to San Fransicko.
Rewind pendant by Rewind
Rewind was supposedly rushed to announce their necklace butt plug after the device below was pushed into the scene. Cool idea—to rewind conversations and keep a memory of it for later use.
The device looks just like a listening device without much else. Creepy still?
Simple and seems like the Amazon of wearable devices—no screen, affordable, just a single use-case.
I’d be surprised that people want a device like this if it doesn’t do anything more than “listen”. Why not just add that feature to an existing device already on you like your phone or watch?
Tab by Avi
The best part about this device is that it spooked a16z backed startup into launching their incomplete project. Announced at a simple hackathon being recorded by a phone, Avi shows off a device that seems to just listen and then answer questions via a chat app using the memory built up by all the recordings.
It looks affordable.
Message and delivery from a scrappy underdog wins big.
The device has low expectations so it doesn’t feel like it needs a lot.
Aside from opposing arguments made between this and the previous device by Rewind, the Tab is setting a different tone.
Is the end nye?
Idk about you, but I wouldn’t wear MORE tech unless it’s invisible. If it’s embedded into my clothing, that would be something. But if it’s another dangling gadget that protrudes more, I’m out of limbs. I already wear an Apple Watch and I’m at a loss for why I really even need it. I’m already caught in an Oura ring and I already have my phone.
More importantly, we’re slowly designing our way to hell—giving anybody a way to hack our memory and any entity power to know what we think.
These devices have benefits, don’t get me wrong, but now we have to worry not only about losing another device but:
Can others hack the data for their own nefarious use?
Could governments use AI to make fake convos sound like you for punishment?
Are we going to have to be more careful about what we say even in private?
Do we understand how these things shape our social skills and interactions?
These things change the social fabric of how we interact. Although iPhones do so many wonderful things, they also paved the way for a dating world where the majority of young men never kissed a girl and most meet their first date not through having social skills in-person but by cleverly typing away a pre-written message to their virtual fling.
There are already numerous reports about how Amazon and Google can listen through their gadgets like doorbells and speakers… sometimes even locking you out of your own home for fake reports.
What can we learn from wearable tech?
Aside from a doomsday scenario, here’s what I pulled from all these tech gadgets you might find useful.
Messaging about socially unusual technology requires a reason to exist, not an end state to reach. People aren’t currently complaining they want to hear about something that happened earlier. Most people just aren’t concerned with that. Maybe I’m wrong.
You better move fast. This space is filling up quickly and those who are early are still late it seems. Ship ship ship.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. This is where I praise all the tech above and beyond. It takes courage to deliver something unique and helpful. Even if people like me don’t believe in it, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong.
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