Humane laid off 4% of its workforce before shipping its $699 wearable AI device

Humane laid off 4% of its workforce before shipping its $699 wearable AI device

The AI device company Humane, founded by ex-Apple staffers, laid off 10 employees this week, just weeks before it plans on shipping its highly-anticipated device. The news was first reported by the Verge.

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In November, Humane announced that it was building a so-called “AI Pin,” a wearable square device that can clip to your clothing. The company’s ambitious goal is to create a new personal computing device that is meant to be more seamless than interacting with a smartphone. The device is set to ship in March.

The company has raised $200 million in funding from investors including Microsoft, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

What does a new personal device with AI look like?

The AI Pin is screenless, so people can interact with the product via voice, touch, or gesture. The standalone device doesn’t need to be paired with a smartphone, but if you choose to do so, it can tell you who’s calling by using a green laser projector to emit their name onto your palm. The pin can also translate your voice into another language. Humane said it is partnering with Microsoft and OpenAI to access its AI technology.

The device comes at a hefty cost starting of $699 along with a $24-a-month subscription fee, which covers unlimited data and phone calls. “For the technology you are getting, we set a high bar for ourselves in terms of pricing it at a level we think is approachable and accessible,” Bethany Bongiorno, Humane CEO, said in a Bloomberg TV interview in November. “There will always be improvements over time in terms of driving down cost.”

Humane was co-founded in 2018 by Bongiorno and her husband Imran Chaudhri. Bongiorno was a software development leader at Apple and was part of the founding iPad team, while Chaudhri spent two decades at the tech giant and led the design of the iPhone home screen.

Humane recruited other Apple employees, including former chief technology officer Patrick Gates, who became Human’s senior director of engineering before transitioning to an advisory role, according to a LinkedIn post Bongiorno posted Tuesday, Jan. 9.

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