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#006 - New AI Devices

Like the mobile internet sparked the success of the touchscreen, Artificial Intelligence will also explore a new range of devices.

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Do we talk enough about AI devices? That's the question that occurred to me this week. There is often talk about what AI can and will be able to do. And, of course, integrations with specific devices are also discussed, with Figure01 as the ultimate example of the past few weeks. This humanoid robot integrated with chatGPT, making it conversational. The robot carried out tasks using verbal commands or random conversations. AI is also constantly mentioned at the launch of new devices: The Macbook is becoming more intelligent than ever, and the Samsung phone is your new best friend. However, somewhere, it remains about integration into known existing types of devices. How will our devices change, and which new types of devices are more in line with the (future) functionality of AI devices? That is what this newsletter is about.

For this newsletter about the potential of up-and-coming devices or the (perhaps) waste of old devices, I'd suggest a soundtrack by the Kills called "Wasterpiece", which is a term that refers to describe projects or works that fail to meet expectations despite considerable investment or hype. 

AI Devices.

Next week, Humane will be launched, a clothing pin designed by the Former Chief Design Officer at Apple. It has already made waves (and a statement) on the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week and is considered the device that will take our attention away from our phones. Humane does not have a screen; it only has a camera, speaker, and touchpad. Where necessary, it can project onto your hand, a technology I learned about in 2008 through Patti Maes (see link). This device will be able to do mainly web searches, navigation, translation, phone calls, and sending and receiving text messages. It's very basic for the time being. This was also evident from the reviews of the test users last week. But that was not unexpected and is not important at all. The greater ambition is to attach a personal assistant to your clothing that looks at the world around you. A piece of technology that can perform tasks through artificial intelligence for which you will no longer need the phone in the near future—a first AI device aimed at making your life easier. (fun fact: the font used by Humane is the same as the font of Healthusiasm - great innovators think alike)

Humane pine - AI Device

A few days later, another AI device is expected to be released into the world. Rabbit, which was the talk of the town during CES 2024, is launching the R1. This is not a pin placed on clothing, but a small handheld device. It also has a mini screen on which some basic functionalities can be read. The idea behind Rabbit is that the phone will increasingly become a device used for entertainment and that the R1 will take over the other functionalities through AI. If you want to make and book a tennis appointment today, you still need various applications (messenger, agenda, booking platform, web browser, payment app, etc.). Rabbit wants to replace this with one voice command via their device. In this context, they talk nicely about the "Large Action Model" - referring to the currently often discussed large language models.

R1 Rabbit - AI device

iPhone moment

Will the end of April 2024 be the iPhone moment of AI devices? I really don't think so. However, the above examples logically continue recent developments in smart speakers or IFTTT solutions (such as Apple's Shorcuts). They string together different actions into one command to serve you faster. But so far, I see little reason to believe that these devices would perform better than, say, a smartwatch. These already have a smartpad, speaker and small screen. Perhaps "watching" is missing, and integrating a camera into a watch will not be practical enough compared to a pin. But with the current use cases, I don't see this being such a significant loss that people will add a pin to their gadget list. If the vision use cases become so important, I expect the Meta Orion Ray Ban glasses launched at the end of this year (as their AI device) to be an exciting addition to the gadget discussion.

MEta Ray Ban Orion

However, these devices are interesting but not interesting enough. As long as the experience is not radically better than current experiences for a sufficiently large number of use cases, people's expectations will not change. They will still expect the current experience. However, these are the first devices that do not simply integrate AI. They are designed to exploit AI's potential, making it super exciting.

And there is more to come: A phone, a Friend, is another newly designed device that tries to break with the concept of standard phones, as they also believe that AI will obliterate big parts of our phones. Their founders think that AI gives an opportunity to humanize this device relationship to actually make it more human instead of just this cold, transactional, attention economy kind of thing. So does as they unveiled a revolutionary app-less smartphone "that you can speak to" at Mobile World Congress with one of the world's leading mobile network operators, Deutsche Telekom.

no app phone

Human values

>> Life Aspirations

My big question today is, which everyday devices can we change again because Artificial Intelligence changes their primary function? Smartphones could become purely entertainment devices where many functions are taken over by other specific devices (see above). Cars evolve from self-driving to autonomous, and may we see the steering wheel disappear? Cameras or textiles could be replacing blood pressure, heart rate and clinical thermometers. Pillboxes or even injection pens are being replaced by smart patches that measure and administer medication.

AI devices can be a new type of device because the format of the previous one is no longer sufficient: new, disappeared, or modified functions will require new formats. Just as the touchscreen suddenly emerged to benefit better from the mobile internet, we will also get new formats here because they better fit the new functionalities that AI will offer. And it will become simpler, smaller, more automatic, more integrated... because we will have to manipulate less ourselves. These new AI devices allow us to be more in the moment and have a certain Clarity (being mindful and focused). It may offer more Autonomy (living independently and autonomously). But who knows, it might help to enjoy Nothingness (doing, feeling, seeing or hearing nothing) a little more every now and then by taking away the many manipulations of devices in our lives. These are all Life Aspirations - as described in my second book, Trends in the Transformation Economy, as our deepest needs and values - that are becoming increasingly important. AI devices' ability to fulfil these Life Aspirations (correctly and with integrity) will give them a greater chance of being used. Because being healthy & happy is what matters most.


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Author & keynote speaker on health, business & technology

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