Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, alongside renowned Apple designer Jony Ive, are actively promoting their collaborative AI hardware venture, attracting attention from investors like Emerson and Thrive Capital. This venture’s product is hinted to diverge from traditional smartphone designs.

The Information reports that the startup is currently negotiating funding with prominent venture capitalists, notably Emerson Collective and Thrive Capital. The founders of these firms share a personal connection with Altman and Ive. Additionally, SoftBank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, participated in initial talks, though his present role in the venture remains uncertain.

Reports indicate that Ive is aiming to secure as much as $1 billion in funding for the project. Notably, Thrive Capital, a previous investor in OpenAI, whose language models may underpin some functionalities of the proposed device, has shown interest.

Sources close to the negotiations suggest that the AI device is being designed to offer a seamless and intuitive user experience, focusing heavily on voice interactions, distinctively moving away from traditional smartphone aesthetics.

This way, it may be similar to the recently unveiled Rabbit R1 AI device that focuses solely on voice interactions. The Humane pin designed by former Apple workers also works on a similar principle. These devices not only answer questions but also perform tasks such as operating apps and providing aid.

Developing such a device would give OpenAI a competitive edge against its biggest competitors including Google and Meta, both of whom are actively working on improving their AI prowess. Additionally, the AI startup already has extensive language models in its arsenal that could easily power this AI device, though the project is still in its early stages. Competitors, including those allied with Microsoft, already have a significant presence in the market, with hundreds of millions of AI-integrated hardware devices in circulation.

Certain wary investors are advising caution regarding lofty valuations for a product category yet to establish its viability at this nascent stage. The extent of OpenAI’s financial involvement in the hardware venture spearheaded by Altman and Ive remains uncertain.

Altman is already working to reduce its reliance on American chipmaker Nvidia by pursuing his own chip manufacturing endeavors.