The business travels of Sam Altman have, as we reported earlier, taken him to the Middle East, among other regions, to discuss funding opportunities for his AI Chip project Tigris. But, Altman was apparently also seeking funding for a new version of Worldcoin’s hardware Globe device that he developed with former Apple design chief Jony Ive.
Earlier this year the news popped up that Apple’s ex-chief design officer, Jony Ive, and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, were rumored to be considering a partnership to develop an AI-focused “hardware device”.
Details about the device, including its purpose and design, are still under wraps. The Information reports that Ive and Altman, known to be friends, are deliberating on the potential shape of “new hardware for the AI era.” Whether OpenAI or an external manufacturer will produce this device, or if the project will proceed at all, remains uncertain.
Apple alum working on the Orb
This isn’t Altman’s first collaboration with an Apple alum on hardware development. Thomas Meyerhoffer, Ive’s inaugural recruit at Apple and collaborator on projects like the iMac, designed the Orb, a spherical retina scanner, for Altman’s Worldcoin cryptocurrency initiative. Orb was a creation of Tools for Humanity, a venture co-founded by Altman in 2019, where he holds the chairman position.
Altman’s collaborations extend beyond former Apple executives. He’s a major investor in Humane, a hardware and software startup by ex-Apple staff, which is working on a wearable AI device aimed to supplant smartphones. Humane and OpenAI are partnering to incorporate OpenAI’s technology into this device.
Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank and once the world’s wealthiest individual, is also said to be in talks with Altman and Ive. Having invested over $140 billion in AI startups in recent years, Son has expressed his ambition to position SoftBank as the foremost investment entity in the AI revolution. His continued involvement in the discussions with Ive and Altman, however, is not confirmed.