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This AI necklace is one of the weirdest wearables I’ve ever seen

A render of the Based Hardware Friend AI necklace.
Based Hardware

The world of wearables has always been a little strange. For every smartwatch, there’s another unusual device designed to be attached to your body, and when you then add AI into the mix, things can take an even odder turn. The Friend — yes, that really is its name — fits neatly into this category because it’s a necklace with AI built-in, ready to monitor and remember your daily conversations.

I’ll let you read that part again. Done? Yes, the Friend, from a company called Based Hardware, is made to help you remember conversations you have on a daily basis, and it uses AI to capture voice and audio and transcribe it to an app on your phone. You can either explore the whole transcription or check an AI-generated synopsis, with the option to use a checklist with suggestions on tasks and follow-up actions.

A person wearing the Based Hardware Friend AI necklace.
Based Hardware

Based Hardware expects people to use the Friend in specific situations such as networking, meetings, and presentations. The more interesting use cases include it acting as a memory aid for those with dementia and as a hands-free alternative for obsessive note-takers. What it’s absolutely not for is secretly recording every interaction you have, so you have an ongoing record of everything you say and to whom. That would be very creepy, so don’t even think about it. To help avoid such horrendous privacy concerns, the Friend necklace has an LED indicator to show that it’s recording. Surely that will solve all the concerns.

Your own privacy is a little better catered for, as recorded conversations are not retained anywhere, and the transcriptions are generated on your phone and only saved locally. The entire platform is open source, and it uses WhisperX AI and ChatGPT.

A person wearing the Based Hardware Friend AI necklace.
Based Hardware

Ensuring the Friend is absolutely a weird wearable, it apparently has a Conversation Coach feature where it will give you tips and advice during a conversation. Exactly what this advice is isn’t clear, but the Friend does have a speaker, so perhaps it will let you know when it’s your turn to speak. Other features include haptics, some onboard memory, Wi-Fi, and six-day battery life. The accompanying app is available for iOS and Android.

The Friend necklace was originally launched as a beta product through Kickstarter, where it raised nearly $50,000 and was available primarily to developers. Now, it’s available for consumers through Based Hardware’s website and costs $69.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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