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Humane Warns Its AI Pin Charging Case Is a Fire Hazard

The buzzy AI device startup, headed by Apple alumni, didn't say it'll be offering replacements.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read
Hand holding the Humane AI Pin
Scott Stein/Viva Tung/CNET

Artificial intelligence startup Humane has sent emails to users of its $699 AI Pin, telling them to "immediately stop" using the Charge Case Accessory "out of an abundance of caution," after Humane identified quality issues with the battery. 

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"While we know this may cause an inconvenience to you, customer safety is our priority at Humane," the company wrote in the email, which was sent Wednesday, June 5, including to CNET, and published on the company's support website.

Humane said it will give users two months of subscription to its service, worth $48, as compensation. It didn't say whether it would be offering replacements.

Humane didn't appear to publish any information about the warning on its main website or in social media channels. The Charge Case is listed as "out of stock" on the company's purchase page, along with a promise that it will "ship separately when available." 

A Humane representative declined to comment further.

The move from Humane -- which the company appears not to be describing as a recall -- marks another dark spot after its AI Pin was panned upon its release in April. Critics complained that the device didn't deliver on its Star Trek communicator-like concept, and instead was buggy, slow and hard to use. 

CNET's Scott Stein wrote that his AI Pin "suddenly needed cooldowns" after he'd used its laser-projected display, noting that the device got uncomfortably warm during use.

"When this happens, I can't use the pin at all, which concerns me," Stein wrote. "First of all, what if I needed it? Second, I'm suddenly wearing a hot pin on my chest."

Read moreHumane AI Hands-On: My Life So Far With a Wearable AI Pin

Apple alum and Humane co-founder Bethany Bongiorno told Stein at the time that the AI Pin's behavior was "part of the pin's thermal management." 

Humane has reportedly raised $240 million, valuing the San Francisco-based startup at $1 billion. The New York Times reported Thursday that the company is hoping to sell itself to HP for more than $1 billion, or potentially raise more funds. Humane's leadership declined to comment about a sale or further fundraising to the newspaper, and representatives didn't respond to CNET's request for comment.

Humane isn't the only AI company that's struggled with a rough launch. In May, another high-profile startup, Rabbit, released its $199 pocket-sized rectangular device to similar criticism, with CNET's Lisa Eadicicco declaring it "half-baked" in her review

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"Many of its features and experiences feel unfinished, and you're much better off just using your phone," Eadicicco wrote. "There may be big things ahead for the Rabbit R1, but I can't review what isn't there yet."

Last week, Google also pumped the brakes on its AI Overviews feature for its search service, after that feature sincerely told some users to add glue to their pizza, and to eat rocks as part of a heathy diet. Google said at the time that it's revamping how its service responds to parody. 

Regardless, companies and governments are continuing to embrace AI as a necessary tool for the future. That includes Apple, which is expected to announce revamped AI features for its iPhones, iPads and Mac computers during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference starting June 10. For hands-on CNET reviews of generative AI products including Gemini, Claude, ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot, along with AI news, tips and explainers, see our AI Atlas resource page.

Read more: AI Atlas, Your Guide to Today's Artificial Intelligence

Editors' note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you're reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.