The Horrific UI/UX Design of Humane's AI Pin

Startup Humane has debuted their Ai Pin, an $800 wearable AI assistant meant to be something like a smartphone without a screen. First-wave tech reviewers are all over the thing, and the reviews have been damning.

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There’s two main issues with this first-of-its-kind device. The first problem, according to reviewers, is that it just doesn’t consistently work. As The Verge editor David Pierce experienced:

“Asking the AI Pin to write down that the library book sale is next week: handy! Waiting for 10 seconds while it processes, processes, and then throws a generic ‘couldn’t add that’ error message: less handy. I’d estimate that half the time I tried to call someone, it simply didn’t call. Half the time someone called me, the AI Pin would kick it straight to voicemail without even ringing.”

“In general, I would say that for every successful interaction with the AI Pin, I’ve had three or four unsuccessful ones. I’ll ask the weather in New York and get the right answer; then, I’ll ask the weather in Dubai, and the AI Pin tells me that ‘the current weather in Dubai is not available for the provided user location in New York.’ I’ll ask about ‘the thing with the presidents in South Dakota,’ and it’ll correctly tell me I mean Mount Rushmore, but then it will confidently misidentify the Brooklyn Bridge as the Triborough Bridge. And half the time — seriously, at least half — I don’t even get an answer. The system just waits, and waits, and fails.”

The second issue is that both the UI and the UX are apparently horrible. Remember that the device doesn’t have a screen, and provides feedback via a projector that projects onto your hand. This is an intriguing idea, and ought be handy, no pun intended: Hold out your mitt, see info you need.

However, to get to that point is difficult. Examples:

UI: To use the device, you must unlock it with a passcode. This is achieved by holding out your hand. A single-digit number is projected onto it. To reach a lower or higher number, you move your hand closer or further away. When you get to the relevant number, you make a pinching gesture to “accept” the number. In this manner you gesture out your entire passcode. “Using it made me feel pretty dumb,” says Engadget‘s Cherlynn Low, who demonstrates the procedure below.

UX: The Ai Pin attaches to your garment via a magnet on the inside. It should of course always be attached to your outermost garment, so the projector is not obscured. This means, in coat weather, you’ve got the thing affixed to your coat. But then you go inside, and take your coat off. To continue using the Ai Pin you detach it from your coat and attach it to your shirt. Each time you detach/re-attach it, you have to go through the passcode sequence again to unlock it.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Low—who was actually burned by the device, as it tends to overheat—describes, and most helpfully demonstrates, the laundry list of UI/UX hassles in her review:

Watching Low try to use the device, both from her POV and when she’s on camera, drove home how insane it all is, how many problems are created by removing a screen.

I don’t envy Humane’s designers. They’re trying to do something new and bold, and the idea seemed interesting on paper. Figuring out an entirely novel interface was probably a lot of work. But the end result has the user working for the technology rather than the other way around.

Source: core77

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