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Humane's AI Pin Gets Brutal Reviews, Udio's Music Generator Makes Waves, and Captions AI Creative Suite

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Several hot AI startups are getting attention this week—and not all of it good.

Three AI startups—Humane, Udio, and Captions—are the talk of the town this past week.

On Episode 92 of The Artificial Intelligence Show, me and Marketing AI Institute founder / CEO Paul Roetzer took a look at why—and why business leaders need to pay attention.

Humane's AI Pin gets brutal early reviews

AI startup Humane is in the news due to brutal early reviews of its AI Pin product.

The AI Pin is a small, tab-like wearable that acts as a voice-activated AI assistant. The promise of the pin is "ambient computing," or the ability to talk with powerful AI in the real world.

Unfortunately, the actual device seems to be a long way off from that promise.

Humane has $242M in funding and counts Sam Altman as an early investor. None of those factors could save it though. The Verge did a deep-dive review of the device, and didn't mince words:

“Should you buy this thing? That one’s easy. Nope. Nuh-uh. No way. The AI Pin is an interesting idea that is so thoroughly unfinished and so totally broken in so many unacceptable ways that I can’t think of anyone to whom I’d recommend spending the $699 for the device and the $24 monthly subscription.”

Common critiques of the device include:

  • It's extremely slow when processing basic commands.
  • It's missing basic features. (For instance, it can’t do basic things like add items to your calendar.)
  • It breaks often and overheats regularly.

“I love entrepreneurship. I love a willingness to take risks. I like that they tried this. but my initial feeling was it just wasn't a form factor that there would be demand for, and that was assuming it even worked," says Roetzer.

The AI Pin is intended to replace your phone in many instances. But Roetzer doesn't see it.

“There’s no use case where this is actually better than your phone.”

(Not to mention, you need a separate phone number through T-Mobile to even use it.)

Other tech commentators are also struggling to find positive things to say about the product. Uber-famous YouTube reviewer Marques Brownlee says it's the "worst product I've ever reviewed."

“It’s borderline insulting to your customers to release something like this as a V1," says Roetzer. He says it'll be hard for Humane to bounce back after this, especially when it comes to raising more money.

“You don’t usually recover from launches that are this bad.”

Udio's AI music generator makes waves

Another startup making waves is Udio, an AI music generation tool.

Udio generates stunning vocals and melodies from scratch that sound totally realistic. That makes it a competitor to Suno, another impressive AI music generator.

Udio is notable because it was founded by four former researchers at Google DeepMind. It's also got $10M in funding and is backed by prominent investors like the head of Gemini at Google, Instagram's co-founder, and musician Will.i.am.

"It's impressive, but I don’t understand what the defensible moat is," says Roetzer. "This is going to be copied by everybody.”

He estimates most research labs have these same capabilities. Or could replicate them if they're willing to train models on copyrighted material.

But it's worth paying attention to for a couple reasons.

Being founded by former Google DeepMind researchers, says Roetzer, means "I’m going to pay attention every time.” The notable investors backing the company also signal it's worth keeping an eye on.

And, the buzz around the tool is a useful signal. It's obvious from usage and commentary about the company that it has product-market fit.

"It's cool tech, for sure," says Roetzer. "I think it’s going to be everywhere."

Captions, a popular AI-powered creative studio, comes to web and desktop

The third AI startup in the spotlight right now is a tool called Captions.

Captions is an AI-powered creative studio that gained popularity as an iOS app. It now has web and desktop versions.

Using Captions, you can do things like:

  • Use AI to dub videos into 28+ languages while preserving the user's voice
  • Use AI to correct eye contact in videos, so someone is looking at the camera
  • Extract short clips from long-form videos based on viral potential
  • "De-noise" videos with AI by removing background noise automatically

"It looks really impressive," says Roetzer. And our team has been impressed in initial tests as we explore use cases for our podcasts, videos, and events.

It also offers lessons on how to approach and adopt AI technology, says Roetzer.

When approaching a tool, start with figuring out how to justify the cost of testing it. Can you save time? Increase creativity? Then, if possible, go.

Tools like Captions cost as low as $10 per month. It's often very easy to justify spending money to test them out.

"But you have to have a process to stay up on the latest technology that is actually legitimate," says Roetzer. “Don't get caught up in the next shiny thing that is just a distraction.”

Having criteria to assess technology is critical. You may want to look at signals like: Who founded the company? Who are the investors? How much money have they raised? Are there obvious use cases for the technology? Is there obvious product-market fit?

All of these questions can help you quickly understand what tools are worth paying attention to for your own specific needs.

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