Upheaval is expected with any startup that’s trying something new, but news of the Humane AI company’s sale plans is a disappointing turn that many saw coming but no one expected so soon. The Human AI Pin was officially announced and opened for pre-orders last year and began shipping in March this year. From the first public appearance, the Humane AI Pin news has largely been skewed towards skepticism, with reviewers regularly doubting the need for such a device. 

Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee, MKBHD, received significant backlash for pointing out the limitations of the device, but it’s apparent that a majority of the market saw the pin as an unfinished product. Now, the Humane AI Pin is looking for a buyer willing to take over and reshape the future of the company at $1 billion USD.

humane ai founders exit

Image: Humane

The Humane AI Company’s Sale Feels Inevitable

Humane AI founders Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno were both key employees at Apple Inc. before they left to pursue their dreams of kick-starting the AI gadget industry. The two talented, highly-qualified individuals, had envisioned “a future that is even more intelligent and even more personal, and committed Humane to building not for the world as it exists today but as it could be tomorrow.” Their answer to this dream was the Humane AI Pin, a product “founded on the principles that we all deserve more from technology.” The ideals and ideas behind the pin are admirable, but unfortunately, they don’t seem to have translated into a marketable product. 

What is the Humane AI Pin That’s on the News?

The $699 USD AI Pin is a 34.2 g gadget that can be clipped onto your clothes, ready to act as an always-available assistant wherever you go. Touch, tap, and swipe gestures on the device’s body prompt different responses from the AI Pin, including image capture via its 13MP, 4160×3120 pixel ultra-wide camera. The device also has a 720p laser ink projection system that can display basic content on your hands when you hold it up in front of it. The AI Pin recognizes hand gestures and interprets those as interaction with the displayed content, allowing users to navigate through the projections in a way that’s unbelievably futuristic.

The Humane AI founders intended for the device to be easily available to answer your questions with a tap, the natural speech of the AI giving you a conversation partner no matter where you go. The AI gadget was also designed to give you a “hands-free” experience—ironic considering its on-hand display—notifying you about calls and messages from those you select so you can keep your head clear of unnecessary notifications. Needed to catch up on everything that you missed after a long flight or a hike into the unknown? The device was capable of summarizing everything you missed. 

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Image: The Humane AI Pin’s laser display

What Prompted the Humane AI Company’s Sale?

Initial marketing for the pin promoted it as a replacement for a smartphone, and that was likely one of the biggest mistakes by the company, as the public immediately began scoffing at the thought and listing the many ways it could not live up to the capabilities of a smartphone. It unfortunately didn’t do enough to be a better investment than a smartwatch either. Over time, the company distanced itself slightly from this marketing strategy, but the damage was done. 

All Humane AI Pin news was largely negative as users found it struggling to perform day to day. The device had woefully limited battery life, its laser was not strong enough to use in brightly lit settings, and the additional worry about its durability all compounded into leaving behind a device that just did not work. The device also has no app integration, so it doesn’t work with your Spotify or Uber account to make life easier for you. If your assistant can’t make it easier to call a cab or check your calendar, then there’s little use for the assistant in just summarizing your calls.

Conceptually, the Humane AI Pin has a lot of great ideas that many would love to experiment with, but the $699 price tag along with the $24 monthly subscription ensured that only an exclusive segment of the population was able to try it out. Along with competition from the Rabbit R1 AI device that was announced around the same time, the Humane AI Pin sank deeper into the pit it had dug for itself. What we didn’t realize was that things were bad enough for the plans of the Humane AI company sale. It might be a while before they get an offer but the Humane AI founders’ exit strategy does seem rushed, all things considered. 

humane ai billion sale

Are Reviewers to Blame for the Humane AI Company’s Sale?

Shifting blame is a tradition as old as time, and many have accused reviewers of being “product killers” who shut down a device before it can get off the ground. Especially when you look at the Humane AI Pin, reviewers did try to give it the benefit of the doubt and test it out before they claimed it was a bad product, and that’s why it’s especially important to pay attention to their opinions because they’ve spent some time with the device and determined it just did not work. 

Marques Brownlee was probably the most criticized reviewer of the product as some claimed he was trying to bring down the company with his review, but a single glance at the video will tell you that every feature of the AI Pin was tested to showcase its actual functionality. Every criticism from its limited battery life to its inability to execute the tasks it was designed for are legitimate concerns with the device

The problem with devices is rarely the fault of the reviewers. Consider the Rabbit R1 AI gadget that, unlike the Humane Pin, was extremely popular when announced. Pre-orders were flooding in at an unbelievable pace in the months leading up to the launch. And then it was actually launched. Things haven’t looked too good for the R1 since then, as users have found it to be an exceptionally limited gadget that struggles to live up to expectations. Pair that with the research being done into the company’s background by expert online sleuth Coffeezilla, and we have Rabbit in deep waters over covering up an NFT scam. The rabbit hole only grows deeper and these companies only have themselves to blame.

humane ai pin buyer

The Humane AI Founders’ Exit Strategy Is Locked In

Back to the Humane AI company sale, Bloomberg reports that the Humane AI Pin is seeking a buyer and has been in discussion with a financial advisor to determine the way forward. We’re unsure if a Humane AI billion-dollar sale is likely considering the current reputation of the device, but there is potential for the device to make a comeback in the right hands. The organization has an asking price between $750 million USD and $1 billion USD, but the numbers could vary following actual discussions with prospective buyers. 

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has previously expressed support for the device and with all of the company’s own focus on AI, there could be room to channel their AI services in a novel way through a new and improved version of the Pin. That is only a hypothetical scenario, however, and he has not publicly expressed any intention to be the next Humane AI Pin buyer. Altman is perhaps too busy dealing with the legal action taken by Scarlett Johansson for imitating her voice with ChatGPT-4o, but that’s a story for a different day.

As more Humane AI Pin news updates begin to pour in, we’ll soon learn more about potential investors in a company that was previously valued at $850 million USD before launch, according to The Information. When MKHBD said the device is “hamstrung by its ideal future version of itself,” I think we all felt that. Now we look to see what this un-ideal future of the Humane AI Pin holds.