After the letdown and subsequent cancellation of Google Glass – the "unappealing" glasses with a display in your field of view to distract you – you're right to be skeptical about wearable technology. But a new demo of a wearable artificial intelligence (AI) is causing (small amount) of buzz on the Internet, because it does seem kind of... good?
The demo by AI startup Humane shows a rectangular device with a camera and listening capabilities, which you place in your shirt pocket.
"It's a new kind of wearable device and platform that's built entirely from the ground up for artificial intelligence," Humane co-founder Imran Chaudhri said in the TED talk, "and it is completely standalone. You don't need a smartphone or any other device to pair with it. In fact, I'm wearing one right now."
The demo saw Chaudhri receive a phone call. At this point, he lifts his hand, and the device projects a display onto it, allowing him the option to accept or refuse the call. In another display, Chaudhri says a sentence in English, which is then repeated by the device in French in a replica of his voice.
"You'll note that's me, and my voice, speaking fluent French, using an AI speech model that's part of my own AI. This is not a deepfake. In fact, it's deeply profound," Chaudhri said. "This is my AI giving me the ability to speak any language and you having a chance to hear me speak that language in my own emotion and my own voice."
The device has been likened on social media to a universal translator from Star Trek.
Further on in the video, Chaudhri held up a chocolate bar to the device and asked if he could eat it, at which point it informed him he should avoid it due to his intolerances. The device also read him his schedule and potential meetings coming up, gathered from emails, calendar invites, and messages – suggesting some integration with other devices and services.
Though cool, some on the Internet have asked the obvious question: why not attempt to integrate all this into a phone? Especially as not everyone wants to wear a camera on their chest all the time. For the first part, the team says that the device is designed to keep you from looking at your phones.
"We like to say that the experience is screenless, seamless, and sensing, allowing you to access the power of compute while remaining present in your surroundings," Chaudhri said, "fixing a balance that's felt out of place for some time now."