The Downward Spiral Continues for the Humane AI Pin Initiative

Boone Ashworth

It has not been a great year for the Humane Ai pin. Pitched to the world as an AI-infused hologram-projecting phone replacement you could stick on your lapel, the wearable pin instead turned out to be a sad, bad little device. After months of hype, the Pin was finally released to widespread disdain from critics who cited an array of faults—like the fact that the $700 smart gadget lacked key features and overheated easily and that its touted projector simply wasn’t visible in daylight. Just a few weeks after the pin came out, Humane’s leadership was looking to sell the company off.

This week, that somber saga has gotten even worse for the weary wearable. The New York Times published a story detailing many of the messy, chaotic decisions behind the scenes at Humane that led to such a flawed product being released into the wild. Chief among the problems were that the company knew the battery didn’t last long and that the device’s laser display got so hot that staff had to put ice packs on it to cool it down. (A day before the NYT story came out, The Verge reported that Humane sent emails to its customers warning them to stop using the charging case that came with the pin because they’re at risk of catching on fire.) There’s also the fact that leadership didn’t listen to internal criticism that may have led to someone pointing out the myriad ways in which the device simply did not work. According to The Times, Humane sold roughly 10,000 devices, less than 10 percent of its goal for an initial run.

Here’s some happier news from the consumer tech world this week.

The 2024 edition of Wilson Audio’s WATT/Puppy speakers

Wilson Audio is bringing back its iconic, Dalek-shaped WATT/Puppy speakers to exterminate your ears, your eyes, and your wallet. Originally designed in 1985 by company founder David Wilson as a way to replicate the sound of his custom studio speakers in a more portable arrangement, each of these shapely boxes packs four drivers into two stacked cabinets. The top part (the WATT) holds a convergent synergy carbon tweeter and a 7-inch alnico midrange driver, while the bottom part (the Puppy) holds a pair of 8-inch cellulose composite woofers.

By Brenda Stolyar

By Boone Ashworth

By Julian Chokkattu

By Brenda Stolyarp>

Each speaker combo is about 42 inches tall.

This new iteration of the WATT/Puppy is the first redesign of the speakers since 2013. They aren’t cheap, priced at over $53,000 for a pair ($41,998 for those in the UK). The design allows for customization of various elements like the grille colors and hardware parts, offering opportunities to create unique configurations. Additionally, spikes can be added to the speaker feet to enhance vibrational isolation, ensuring that the sound quality remains pristine even when playing deep bass notes from your 180-gram audiophile vinyl of Aja by Steely Dan.

Elon Musk really likes money. Or at least that’s what you might assume seeing as he is currently in a fight to secure $56 billion as a salary for staying on as CEO of the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla.

On June 13, Tesla shareholders will vote to approve the gargantuan paycheck for the world’s richest man. It’s been a tense row, with the chair of Tesla’s board calling for shareholders to approve the money lest Musk leave for, well, greener endeavors. And—surprise, surprise—Musk has been criticizing Tesla shareholders who say they will vote against the pricey package.

In other Elon adventures, The Wall Street Journal reported that Musk redirected a shipment of Nvidia AI chips away from Tesla to be used in facilities for his other major project, the social site formerly known as Twitter (now bizarrely named X).

As Google is prone to do these days, the company’s recent AI endeavors continue to stir controversies among netizens. Google’s newer feature, AI Overviews, which are short written summaries at the top of some search results, aims to quickly inform searchers. However, these answers can sometimes be either incorrect or misleading. Moreover, by providing instant answers, Google challenges the very existence of websites that rely on traffic from searches as visitors often no longer need to visit the actual pages.

This week on the Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED writers Kate Knibbs and Reece Rogers join the show to discuss the evolution of AI overviews in online information discovery, Google’s management of the feature’s introduction, and the implications of these overviews replicating original content.

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