Humane reveals first international market for the Ai Pin, partnering with South Korea's SK Telecom

Hyped hardware startup Humane has announced plans for its first international market, inking a deal with South Korean carrier SK Telecom.

The announcement comes shortly after the San Francisco-based company revealed it was pushing back the shipping date of its Ai Pin device from March to mid-April in its domestic U.S. market.

Founded in 2017 by former Apple executives Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri, Humane had raised north of $200 million from backers including Microsoft, Qualcomm Ventures and OpenAI’s Sam Altman before anyone in the outside world knew what it was building. The company finally revealed all last June, and in the intervening months it teased more details about the device.

In a nutshell, Humane has created the "Ai Pin," a wearable device and whole new form factor packed with sensors, generative AI smarts and a mini projector that beams information onto any surface.

The Ai Pin costs $699, with a recurring $24 monthly subscription that gives the user a phone number and unlimited data to power as many AI-powered queries they like. This positions Humane as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), with T-Mobile serving as its launch partner in the U.S. market.

Humane in action
Humane in action

Humane in action. Image Credits: Humane


However, while Humane has given the world glimpses of the Ai Pin, nothing has yet left the factory floor for the consumer market -- and with the company announcing a round of layoffs in January, with long-standing CTO Patrick Gates also leaving his role, it would be easy to think that something wasn't quite right at the company.

But with a South Korea launch now on the agenda, in partnership with the country's largest mobile provider, this bodes well for Humane as it ramps up production in the coming months. The partnership also extends beyond a simple MVNO tie-up -- Humane says it's part of a "strategic investment opportunity" that will see SK Telecom license Humane's CosmOS, the proprietary AI-enabled operating system that powers the Ai Pin.

SK Telecom's A.Dot platform
SK Telecom's A.Dot platform

SK Telecom's A.Dot platform. Image Credits: SK Telecom

Indeed, SK Telecom has been bolstering its very own AI offerings of late, launching a ChatGPT competitor of sorts back in 2022 called A.Dot, and late last year it revealed its ambitions to become a "global AI company" through establishing partnerships with different players around the world. And just yesterday, SK Telecom announced a partnership with AI search engine Perplexity to bring its premium "Pro" plan to SK Telecom's 32 million subscribers.

It's not entirely clear to what extent SK Telecom might lean on CosmOS, but the announcement today said that the two companies will "collaborate on new subscription offerings and create new revenue opportunities for an app-less OS and ecosystem" for the Korean market.

It's also not yet clear when the Ai Pin might make it to market in South Korea, but given the delays currently surrounding its U.S. launch, we maybe shouldn't expect it too soon.