Cherlynn Low’s Humane AI Pin Review for Engadget

Cherlynn Low:

When you can read what’s on the screen, interacting with it might make you want to rip your eyes out. Like I said, you’ll have to move your palm closer and further to your chest to select the right cards to enter your passcode. It’s a bit like dialing a rotary phone, with cards for individual digits from 0 to 9. Go further away to get to the higher numbers and the backspace button, and come back for the smaller ones.

This gesture is smart in theory but it’s very sensitive. There’s a very small range of usable space since there is only so far your hand can go, so the distance between each digit is fairly small. One wrong move and you’ll accidentally select something you didn’t want and have to go all the way out to delete it. To top it all off, moving my arm around while doing that causes the Pin to flop about, meaning the screen shakes on my palm, too. On average, unlocking my Pin, which involves entering a four-digit passcode, took me about five seconds.

On its own, this doesn’t sound so bad, but bear in mind that you’ll have to re-enter this each time you disconnect the Pin from the booster, latch or clip. It’s currently springtime in New York, which means I’m putting on and taking off my jacket over and over again. Every time I go inside or out, I move the Pin to a different layer and have to look like a confused long-sighted tourist reading my palm at various distances. It’s not fun.

One thing all the reviewers seem to agree upon is that the AI Pin feels like an impressive piece of kit: small, lightweight, sturdy, well-made. And it packs a lot into a small form factor: camera, laser projector, speaker/microphone. But it’s also seemingly bursting at the seams, battery-life and heat-dissipation-wise. So I get it, me suggesting they should have added something else to the hardware — anything else — would pose a design and engineering challenge.

But with that throat-clearing out of the way: it seems obvious that the AI Pin should have a fingerprint scanner for authentication. You have to touch it for all interactions anyway — it doesn’t listen for a trigger word — so why not add the equivalent of Touch ID? Every single review notes the same thing Low complains about above: authenticating with your passcode takes too long, is error-prone, and you need to do it periodically throughout the day.

Friday, 12 April 2024