By Allison Johnson , a reviewer with 10 years of experience writing about consumer tech. She has a special interest in mobile photography and telecom. Previously, she worked at DPReview.
Last week, Humane debuted its AI Pin as a phone replacement without a screen. You interact with it through voice, and a tiny projector displays things like media controls and incoming calls on the palm of your hand. The idea is to allow you to simply move through the world, unencumbered by digital devices constantly demanding your attention. To wear the AI Pin is to live in a world beyond screens.
It’s a beautiful vision that I’d love to buy into. But here’s the thing: screens are great, and I don’t think we can, or even should, ditch them quite yet.
Humane’s whole deal centers on the screenless-ness of its product — founder Imran Chaudhri said as much in his TED talk earlier this year. In Humane’s view, screens are a barrier between us and the rest of the world. The AI Pin allows you to “access the power of compute while remaining present in your surroundings, fixing a balance that’s felt out of place for some time now,” Chaudhri said. He’s not alone in that sentiment, with some research suggesting a link between depression and higher screentime. The science there isn’t settled, but Choudhri is tapping into a general worry that we’re all looking at our phone screens too damn much; just look at any number of products and features designed in response.