The Rise of AI Wearables: Tab Raises $1.9 Million in Seed Funding

Amid the growing popularity of large language models (LLMs), companies are incorporating them into various hardware devices. Tab, a wearable AI startup, recently announced that it has secured $1.9 million in seed funding at a reported valuation of nearly $20 million. Tab’s unique value proposition lies in its vision to create an AI pendant that can be worn around the neck, offering continuous insights and assistance akin to an intelligent friend.

The Technology and Investors

Tab’s technology, although still in development, has garnered significant attention from the AI community. It has attracted the participation of multiple venture capital firms and angels from the AI industry, including Caffeinated Capital, Rief Capital, and prominent figures like Guillermo Rauch (CEO of Vercel), Shawn Wang (Smol AI), Anatoly Yakovenko and Raj Gokal (founders of Solana), and Aravind Srinivas (Perplexity AI).

Tab joins other noteworthy AI hardware offerings, such as Humane’s AI Pin and Rabbit’s recently unveiled r1 AI pocket companion. The mastermind behind Tab is Avi Schiffmann, a Harvard dropout renowned for developing platforms for Covid tracking and assisting Ukrainians in finding shelter homes.

The Functionality and Purpose

Tab operates as an always-on AI pendant that captures everyday conversations, be it with friends or colleagues, in low quality audio. It then uses Bluetooth to transmit the audio to users’ smartphones, which subsequently uploads the data to the cloud. ChatGPT transcribes and analyzes this information, offering a diverse range of insights and actionable advice via the smartphone interface.

“Tab is your super intelligent sidekick. Whether you’re building the future or feeling down, Tab understands you and is always ready to jump in with an idea or words of encouragement. Together, you’ll unlock your full potential and ultimately make the most out of being human,” Schiffmann wrote in an announcement post.

Schiffmann emphasizes that Tab is not intended to be a work assistant but rather a “super-intelligent” friend, therapist, or coach available round the clock. It observes behaviors, provides relevant insights, words of encouragement, and even opposing perspectives. According to Schiffmann, this kind of companionship will have a profound impact on people’s lives, offering true independence and representing AI for the masses.

The prototype design of Tab resembles a miniaturized version of Google Nest, and pre-orders are now open for $600 per unit. Shipping is expected to commence in the second half of 2024.

Privacy Concerns and Potential Challenges

While the concept of an AI companion aiding in daily life seems practical, there are concerns about the sharing of personal conversations. The success of Tab largely hinges on people’s willingness to wear it consistently and have their conversations recorded for AI analysis. Additionally, those engaged in conversations with Tab users may not be comfortable with being recorded.

Schiffmann assures that Tab does not store or share the captured information and provides a manual switch-off button for users whenever needed. However, the challenge lies in convincing individuals to adopt and use Tab, similar to the initial apprehensions surrounding phones with built-in cameras before their widespread acceptance.

It remains to be seen whether Tab can popularize the concept of always-on AI companionship. Notably, Tab is not the only AI hardware in development. Alternatives like Rabbit’s r1 AI device, which leverages Large Action Models, aim to replace smartphones through voice activation and streamlined tasks. Meta smart glasses and Humane AI Pin, utilizing gestures and contextual information, are also noteworthy innovations in the wearable AI space.

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