Legendary designer Jony Ive, known for creating the iconic look and feel of some of Apple's most iconic products, and AI startup OpenAI may be teaming up to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence,” according to a new report by the Financial Times. Sources say OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has been meeting with Ive's design firm LoveFrom to conceptualize an AI-focused consumer device.
Details remain sparse, but Altman and Ive are said to be exploring what a seamless, intuitive user experience for interacting with AI could look like. Their goal echoes the iPhone's impact - making sophisticated technology easily accessible to mainstream consumers. The iPhone ushered in the mass adoption of mobile internet through its innovative multi-touch interface. Ive and Altman hope to similarly democratize AI.
The talks involve Ive lending his acclaimed design sense to shape hardware around OpenAI's AI capabilities. Over the last year, OpenAI's ChatGPT chatbot has become a viral sensation, demonstrating how advanced conversational AI can captivate public interest. A consumer device embedding similar technology could enable more natural AI interactions using voice, gestures, and visualization.
Any plans are still in early conceptual stages, with many potential ideas under consideration. But discussions have already included SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who is pitching financial and technical support. Son has proposed integrating technologies from SoftBank-owned chip designer Arm. There is talk of launching a joint venture backed by over $1 billion in funds from SoftBank's Vision Fund.
While no formal agreement is in place yet, the talks are said to be progressing seriously. However, developing a new consumer product and bringing it to market could still take years.
For Ive, the initiative presents an opportunity to fix some of smartphones' unintended consequences that he has criticized, like internet addiction. His aim is to enable richer AI experiences while reducing dependency on screens. Altman likely hopes to boost OpenAI's capabilities in the red-hot generative AI space, as competitors like Google, Meta, and Anthropic invest heavily in the technology to potentially dethrone OpenAI.
Interestingly, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is already an early backer of consumer hardware startup Humane, which is developing an innovative AI-powered wearable device. Earlier this year, the company made waves when it teased its Humane AI Pin at the TED conference. Slated to launch in the coming months, the Humane AI Pin is a standalone device with a software platform harnessing AI to enable new personal computing experiences. Humane is collaborating with Qualcomm on the unique form factor.
A significant takeaway from this narrative is the overarching quest for the 'next big thing' in consumer electronics. While devices like VR/AR headsets, smart glasses, and smart speakers have made an impression, none have been as transformative as the iPhone. If Ive and Altman's vision succeeds, it could provide OpenAI and SoftBank a vital competitive edge.