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‘This Is Going to Be Painful’: How a Bold A.I. Device Flopped

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the failed launch of Humane's Ai Pin, a futuristic wearable device powered by artificial intelligence. Despite high expectations and significant investment, the Ai Pin faced numerous issues, including poor battery life, overheating, and inaccurate responses, leading to negative reviews and slow sales. The article also covers Humane's discussions with potential buyers, including HP, about a potential sale of the company.

🙋 Q&A

[01] "This Is Going to Be Painful": How a Bold A.I. Device Flopped

1. What were the key issues with the Humane Ai Pin device?

  • The Ai Pin had issues with its laser display, which consumed a lot of power and caused the device to overheat.
  • The battery life of the device was not sufficient, with test units running out of power within hours.
  • The device had inaccurate responses to some user requests.

2. How did Humane's founders respond to employee concerns about the device's issues?

  • Humane's founders, Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri, preferred positivity over criticism and disregarded warnings from employees about the device's problems.
  • Some employees tried to persuade the founders not to launch the Ai Pin because it was not ready, but their concerns were not addressed.

3. What was the impact of the negative product reviews on Humane?

  • The reviews were "brutally panning" the new $699 Ai Pin, with some reviewers calling it "the worst product I've ever reviewed."
  • After the reviews, Humane started talking to HP and other potential buyers about a potential sale of the company.

[02] Humane's Potential Sale and Funding Efforts

1. What is the status of Humane's potential sale and funding efforts?

  • About a week after the negative reviews, Humane started talking to HP, the computer and printer company, about selling itself for more than $1 billion.
  • Humane has also retained an investment bank, Tidal Partners, to help navigate the discussions about a potential sale and manage a new funding round that would value the company at $1.1 billion.

2. What challenges has Humane faced in addition to the product issues?

  • Humane has grappled with employee departures and had to change a return policy to address canceled orders.
  • The company also recently asked customers to stop using the Ai Pin charging case due to a fire risk associated with its battery.

3. How have Humane's founders responded to the challenges?

  • Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri acknowledged that there was a difference between testing a device and actually using it, and they "definitely wish that we were able to resolve some of those things a little bit differently."
  • They said Humane has since worked on addressing the device's issues, such as adding more voice navigation options, sound effects, and integrating OpenAI's GPT-4 chatbot system to improve battery life and response time.
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