The race to create an iPhone in the era of artificial intelligence has begun

AI tools like Ray-Ban’s new Meta smart glasses (left) and Humane’s AI Pin seek to change the way humans interact with technology.
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  • Tech companies are trying to capitalize on the AI ​​hype by building AI-focused devices.
  • Some technology leaders view the devices as the iPhone of the AI ​​era, a way to own the devices we use to interact with AI.
  • The iPhone’s true successor may be the “golden goose” of technology, but previous attempts have failed.

Get ready for a new wave of AI-powered tech devices.

These cutting-edge gadgets won’t look like the thin glass rectangles we’ve become accustomed to during the smartphone era, but will take on bold new shapes as tech companies experiment with new ways to interact with artificial intelligence.

The race is on as generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, OpenAI’s AI-based chatbot, take the world by storm. Tech companies are looking to capitalize on the hype with new devices that include AI features — and it’s a phenomenon Technology leaders They claim “iPhone moment.”

The key question they all face is: Can personal AI tools finally become the next big thing, replicating the seismic shift the iPhone brought to the tech industry?

It seems that some big names are betting on this.

Just last week, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the latest generation of… Meta’s Ray-Bans Meta smart glasseswhere wearers can talk to the glasses through Meta AI, Meta’s conversational assistant, to receive real-time information, and use it to broadcast live footage via Facebook and Instagram.

“That would be very weird, to have a Meta AI that you can talk to all day long with your glasses on.” Zuckerberg told The Verge.

Zuckerberg said the AI ​​glasses are a stepping stone toward Meta’s ultimate goal: a world full of holograms you can talk to.

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“You’ll interact with people as 3D images, with artificial intelligence as 3D images, and all of these things,” Zuckerberg said, referring to the vision of the Meta smart glasses.

Models wear Humane’s AI pin during the Coperni fashion show at Paris Fashion Week 2023.
Victor Virgil/Getty Images

Three days later, during a Paris Fashion Week runway show, a prototype of an AI pin device from startup Humane was spotted on some runway models — a wearable badge-like device that includes a camera and speaker but no screen.

Humane co-founder, former Apple designer Imran Choudhary, He showed off a host of sci-fi-like features for the gadget On stage during a TED Talk in May, such as Pin’s ability to display call details on his hand, translate English to French in an AI-generated audio transcript, and summarize messages and calendar invites he missed using the command “follow me.”

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The promise of the AI ​​pin, Chaudhry said, is to create an invisible device that will reimagine human-technology interactions so that humans can “get back to what really matters” — “a new ability to be present.”

“Why look for your phone when you can just hold something and ask questions about it?” Choudhury said in his TedX talk. “The result is as if the entire world has become your operating system.”

It has even been reported that Jony Ive, the former Apple design chief who led iPhone design, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are building a dedicated AI device alongside “ New form factornot limited to the rectangular screen.”

Top-tier names also attract top-tier funding. CEO of SoftBank Masayoshi’s son It is reportedly considering pumping $1 billion into the project.

The mysterious device has not been officially announced yet, however Altman told Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff That it will soon be “unreasonable not to integrate intelligence into every product and service.”

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a Game of Thrones battle for AI dominance

Given the capabilities of AI, some technology experts believe that AI-powered personal devices could be the successor technology to the iPhone and become the new computing device we use in our daily lives.

like brad stone, The author of two books about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, recently said: “More than 15 years after the introduction of the iPhone, ChatGPT and other generative AI services may soon form the basis for a new kind of device and a very different kind of device.” Interaction between humans and computers.”

Technology leaders may be betting big on AI hardware, in part because the hardware could play a “key role” in the evolution of AI, said Dan Ives, a technology analyst at Wedbush Securities.

“Altman, Nadella, Zuckerberg, Cook and Jassy all know that the devices will be a gateway to consumer AI technology,” Ives told Insider. “Software is the hearts and lungs of AI while hardware is the arms and legs.”

In fact, Ives believes it’s “now or never” that big tech companies must capitalize on the AI ​​arms race because the “Game of Thrones battle for AI dominance” is already “catalysing major investments, partnerships, and product launches.”

The year 2024 is expected to be the year of the “launching pad” for artificial intelligence.

Getting people off their iPhones is going to be tough

But others are more skeptical about whether AI devices could one day become as popular and revolutionary as the iPhone.

“Personally, I don’t find it likely that a separate class of AI devices will survive in the long term,” said Thomas Hay, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who researches the history of the technology and co-authored a paper. The 2021 book is titled “A New History of Modern Computing.”

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The big question is whether tech companies can convince smartphone users to choose a new AI-focused device instead of just using apps like ChatGPT.
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AI is “more branding than anything else” — a marketing tactic, he told Insider, that companies have historically used to raise money and promote research — and iPhone users may continue to stick with the already established tool as Apple develops new iterations of the iPhone with… Artificial intelligence features.

“Siri has been one of the core capabilities of the iPhone for a long time, and local speech processing and other AI-branded activities have applications that have justified the need for annual smartphone hardware upgrades for several years now,” Hay said. “Therefore, in the short term, the AI ​​trend seems likely to enhance smartphone dominance.”

Although the “smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient technologies” behind smartphones have “opened up other product opportunities” such as smartwatches with fitness tracking capabilities, he believes personal AI devices will fail several times before they “succeed.” the end”. “Because some wearables, like Google Glass, fail.

Ives, the technology analyst, agrees with Hay. Although he said that AI hardware innovations represent “the golden goose for technology players in the next decade along with software,” he does not believe all of them will be successful.

However, despite the impressive AI capabilities, Hai said that smartphones may still be easier for the average consumer to use than AI devices, meaning that personal AI devices may take some time to gain public interest.

After all, there is a ChatGPT app available for iPhone and Android.

“Honestly, carrying a phone is not a burden, and there will still be a lot of things that will be easier to do than using glasses, a watch, or an earpiece — no matter how much AI dust you throw on them,” Hay said.

“I’d give smartphone mainstream dominance at least another decade.”

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