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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Fwd: Weird AI prototypes (plus, what Apple and Amazon are up to next)

Forwarded for publication.

Marie Seshat Landry
CEO / Spymaster
Marie Landry's Spy Shop
www.marielandryceo.com


---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Rob Howard <rob@innovatingwithai.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 9, 2024 at 7:35 AM
Subject: Weird AI prototypes (plus, what Apple and Amazon are up to next)
To: <marielandryx@gmail.com>


To protect your time, learn how to spot stuff that's safe to ignore  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Innovating with AI

Hey Innovator,

To stay sane as an innovator or entrepreneur, you and I need to accept that nobody knows for sure what will be popular. (That's why I remind students of this at every step in the AI ideation and creation journey.)

Since we don't know what will be popular, we have to test a prototype.

That inevitably means there will be a lot of prototypes.

And it's just a fact that some of those prototypes are going to be really weird.

Today, I want to talk about two very strange prototypes that hit the AI scene recently:

  • The Humane Ai Pin, and...
  • The Rabbit R1 handheld device

Both are physical AI-powered products, which is a new frontier. Both also received a lot of attention but also a lot of very valid criticism when they went public.

They also both rely on a very similar fundamental claim about the world:

"We should use our phones less." (And in this case, use [insert new AI hardware] more.)

The creator of the Rabbit R1 says that "the myriad apps and functions available on our phones have stripped away their simplicity." The $699 Humane Pin is priced similarly to a smartphone and is frequently described as an attempt at replacing your phone.

Here's the Rabbit R1, which is a handheld device with a retro design (to me, it says "Nintendo DS"):

Rabbit R1

And here's the Humane Ai Pin. (For some reason, Ai intentionally has a lowercase i in this product's name.

Ai Pin

For starters, the Pin is very cool. It can project a miniature "screen" onto your hand and pick up your hand-and-finger gestures, similarly to the hand-tracking features in the Meta Quest that allow you to play virtual reality games without controllers. (My son and I think the Quest is pretty cool, too.)

The Pin also has a camera, which set off a lot of privacy alarms in the early coverage, but which I think is actually one of its most valuable features in terms of future development (more on that in a moment).

But really, the Pin is best described as an Apple Watch that you wear on your chest rather than your wrist. And that's the Achilles' heel of all these new AI ideas – there's just not a great reason for someone to buy new hardware if they already have a modern iPhone or Android device in their pocket.

Apple and Amazon are catching up fast

We have to assume that our "standard" smartphones are going to be empowered by better and better AI over the next year. Amazon is racing toward turning Alexa into something as smart as ChatGPT. Apple is surely doing the same for Siri, and we know Google is already speeding toward GPT-4 quality with its own AI. As these models get better and cheaper, Siri and Alexa will naturally converge with ChatGPT.

And, of course, Siri and Alexa are already connected to all your stuff.

And you already own all the devices. (I'm literally in the same room as an iPad, two iPhones and a Macbook right now.)

But don't tell the founder of Rabbit (or its many pre-order buyers). Rabbit's creators and fans seem to believe that people want to carry an independent device that theoretically can connect with our apps (which, presumably, are also on our phones sitting somewhere nearby) to do things like order food, hail an Uber or (in a more extreme example) plan vacations. (Here's the demo video.)

In many ways, it reminds me of the Light Phone, which is a very slick device that can text, make calls, and not do much else. The Light Phone is intentionally designed to allow you to go off the grid a bit, without being totally disconnected. (Good way to delay giving your kid a smartphone, too.)

The Light Phone shines with its clear, authentic and consistent message – it is a product that allows you to be part of the modern world without getting sucked into the online vortex.

The Rabbit R1 fails this authenticity test. Despite being pitched as a quest for simplicity, once you scratch the surface you start to hear the real story:

Here's an excerpt from Fast Company's conversation with Rabbit founder Jesse Lyu:

If Rabbit were simply an app, Apple could see his code, which Lyu feels would equate to sharing his company's IP. He'd need to create and maintain apps for both iOS and Android, which requires lots of ongoing investment for a high level of execution. And ultimately, Rabbit would be served up in the same trough of every other app. "Yes, you can be very successful on the App Store, but you have that lack of sense of security," says Lyu. "Like, what if tomorrow, there's a better app? Think of filter apps for Instagram. There's no loyalty whatsoever!"

Lyu argues that hardware, despite its expense and challenges to manufacture, and despite its redundancy in our pockets, offers far more defensibility to his business.

He continues:

"The real scalable business is when people start teaching rabbits to do their own thing, so that you're essentially creating rabbits instead of apps."

As users sell their own rabbits, Rabbit OS will take a cut, just like Apple does with its App Store. "We're not reinventing any business models," says Lyu.

The company that is "simplifying" things by replacing your app-filled phone is really just gearing up to create an App Store of their own. 🤷

What are wearables good for?

Despite the widespread ridicule of the Ai Pin, the Apple Vision Pro and the gone-but-not-forgotten Google Glass, I think there's huge potential for something like the Pin to change lives for the better for many, many people.

The thing about the Pin, though, is that it's not best viewed as a productivity tool or a replacement for Siri or a reimagined Apple Watch.

Instead, the Pin and other wearable/handheld AI devices are going to shine as accessibility devices for people with disabilities.

Imagine a Pin that could use its camera to describe the world around you in real time. (The service Be My Eyes does this with human volunteers via a smartphone app, and its testimonials show how big of a deal this is for people with vision impairment.)

A well-executed AI wearable that can quickly and accurately help people who need assistance navigating the world around them would have a huge positive impact on society. (In fact, I've already tested this with EveryAlt, my AI software that helps improve website accessibility, and GPT-4's vision recognition is accurate enough [but not yet fast enough] to do something just like this.)

In other words, "can this thing order DoorDash" and "can this thing play my favorite song on Spotify" are the wrong questions to be asking about wearable and handheld AI.

Instead, as AI models get faster and smarter, we'll see these devices being used to make society more accessible and inclusive. That's a far more noble goal than building the next App Store.

Talk to you soon,

Rob Signature

– Rob Howard
Founder of Innovating with AI

PS. I'm putting the finishing touches on my next AI education workshop. It's called "Find Your Next 5 AI Ideas".

I started putting it together when I realized that the first step to launching an AI idea in 30 days was [insert drumroll 🥁 here] to make sure you had a really valuable idea to work on.

If you want to be the first to hear about it, click here to join the waitlist for Find Your Next 5 AI Ideas.

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