It’s fun to imagine which technological breakthrough will eventually replace our smartphones. Will it be an AR headset? Microchips in our brains? something else entirely? Well, at least according to one company, it could be a tiny, screenless wearable you keep in your shirt pocket.
On April 21, Leaked footage from upcoming TED talk Unveiled photos and video of the upcoming wearable from Humane — a tech startup led by former Apple employees Imran Choudhury and Bethany Bongiorno. The full TED talk showcasing the human wearable is expected to go live on April 22, but even from the early bits we’ve seen so far, it looks like an attractive (and weird) alternative to a smartphone.
What is a human wearable?
Let’s start with an important question – what exactly Is this thing? It appears to be a tiny, screenless gadget that fits in your shirt pocket. At least, that’s how it’s used during TED Talks.
It looks like a small smartphone, but instead of a display on the front, there’s a laser projector on the top. It also houses microphones for voice commands, a speaker, a camera, and other sensors that support gesture controls. One of the gestures allows you to tap the device to “wake it up” so you can start issuing voice commands—much like pressing the power button on your iPhone to talk to Siri.
It’s also worth noting that the Human wearable isn’t just an accessory that you hook up to your current smartphone. Unlike a smartwatch, Humane has made it clear that its wearables are meant to be used independently without a cell phone connection.
It all sounds very interesting, but what does all this technology do?
A major focus for human wearables appears to be on voice commands/interaction. One of the big things highlighted is the “Catch Me Up” feature. Instead of mindlessly shoving information into your face all day long, you can ask the human wearable to summarize what you’ve been missing. In the demo, we see the device held down, it’s asked to “hold me up,” and it then provides a breakdown of “emails, calendar invites, and messages” you’ve received.
Another demo shows the human device used for voice translation. After saying a phrase in English, the device immediately repeats the phrase in French – using the same voice of the person who just spoke.
Through the camera on the wearable, you can also use it to scan food items to determine whether or not you can eat something – based on your personal preferences and dietary restrictions. In the demo, after scanning a chocolate bar and asking, “Can I eat this?”, the humanoid wearable tells its owner that the chocolate bar “contains cocoa butter” and that “given your intolerance, you Might want to avoid it.”
But your voice isn’t the only way you can use Humane’s futuristic gadget. Remember that laser projector I mentioned earlier? A Clip It projects an incoming call notification to a person’s hand, and when they accept the call, it displays the caller’s name, call duration, and certain controls (such as the button to end the call or your microphone). projects to mute). Presumably, the projector will be able to display other bits of visual information beyond phone calls, although that’s the only example we’ve seen so far.
Given this early look at Humane’s wearable, it was being described as an “iPhone killer.” Is this really the device that will destroy the iPhone and all other smartphones as we know them? Perhaps But probably not.
There’s impressive technology behind Humane’s wearable, and this is only a very small first look at what it can do. But if this is to be considered the future of smartphones… I’m not sure it’s a future I’m particularly excited about. It’s an interesting alternative to a smartphone, sure, but is either one really more convenient/practical? iPhone 14 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra?
That’s a big question – and one that will be answered in due time. Humane will reveal more details about its wearable later this year, and if you’re interested, you can Sign up for the waiting list on its website,