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Apple iPhone designer will join Jony Ive and OpenAI boss Sam Altman to work on mysterious consumer AI device

What just happened? The mission to build a consumer AI device that is already being called the “iPhone of artificial intelligence” has taken another step closer to reality. Joining what is starting to look like an Avengers-of-tech team is Apple executive Tang Tan, the lead designer of the iPhone and Apple Watch.

It was reported in September that ChatGPT maker OpenAI was looking to create its first consumer device that offers a more natural and intuitive way of interacting with AI. The company is working with former Apple designer Sir Jony Ive, along with SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son, on the product.

According to Bloomberg, Ive and OpenAI boss Sam Altman have now enlisted outgoing Apple executive Tang Tan to work on the project’s hardware engineering side.

Once he leaves Cupertino in February, Tan will join Ive’s design company LoveFrom, which is creating the AI device’s look and capabilities. OpenAI and Altman’s roles are to provide the software and artificial intelligence smarts.

Ive was heavily involved in the design of the iPhone, iMac, and iPad during his time at Apple. With Tan now being involved, the iPhone link is even stronger. But Altman told The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live event earlier this year that he wasn’t interested in creating a device that would compete with something as popular as the smartphone.

Exactly what the new device will be is still unknown. There have been suggestions that it could be a reimagining of something similar to Google Glass.

Ive reportedly said the project presents an opportunity to create a way of interacting with computers that is less reliant on screens. Altman is no stranger to this concept, thanks to his investment in hardware and software startup Humane, which recently revealed its $699 AI pin (above), a screenless, wearable brooch featuring a voice assistant and laser projector, all powered by GPT-4. The designers say it is supposed to replace the smartphone. How it will fit in alongside the FromLove/OpenAI device is unclear.

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