Wearable Computers

People have been experimenting with the form factor of “personal computing” ever since it became clear that such devices could be made small enough to fit on our bodies. The smart phone has won this form factor battle to date, and it’s unclear what could upset that.

Smart watches have proved to be inessential compared to phones so far, with a smaller market and longer periods between upgrading. Virtual and augmented reality headsets require tethering or limited batteries, and can be uncomfortable in the amount of pressure and heat they generate on your head.

Humane is launching their “AI Pin”: a magnetically-held voice assistant, with a wide angle camera and laser projector. It aims to replace the phone:

Humane’s goal was to replicate the usefulness of the iPhone without any of the components that make us all addicted — the dopamine hit of dragging to refresh a Facebook feed or swiping to see a new TikTok video. They experimented in secret with hardware components and built a virtual assistant, like Siri or Alexa, working with customized language models based, in part, on OpenAI’s offerings.

It’s not clear that people want to use their phones less. People enjoy being glued to their phones! Proposing to replace that with what is essentially a stylish police body camera is compelling only with a lot of caveats.

Rewind proposes a necklace that records everything around you and lets you scrub through the meaningful history with a companion phone app.

Both of these only nod at the enormously antisocial behavior devices like these introduce. What is the experience of talking to someone who is splitting their attention between being present in a conversation and committing/sourcing something from one of these “second brain” devices?