We’ve seen him at Maker Faires. We’ve seen him create 3D printers. We’ve seen him drive futuristic cars. Now, will.i.am is entering the wearable market with a next-gen smartwatch, or cuff as he calls its.
With 19.2 million wearable devices set to ship this year and over 112 million expected be in use by 2018, it’s no wonder will.i.am has decided to embark on his latest venture. With brains and beauty, not only is it a SMART idea, his newfound company I.Am.Plus Electronics LLC hopes to make body-adorned tech more fashionable!
The device, which has officially been named Puls, was first exhibited by will.i.am on Channel 4’s Alan Carr: Chatty Man back in April, and has also made appearances on The Voice in the UK. “I don’t carry my phone anymore, this is my phone. A lot of these smart watches need phones — mine doesn’t need a phone,” will.i.am explained.
On October 15th, the entrepreneur and Grammy Award-winning artist took center stage at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco to debut his newest product, which is expected to rival others on the market — such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S. Wearers will be able to use the gadget like a phone, by making calls, using apps and of course, listening to the latest tunes from the Black Eyed Peas.
The smart cuff will be voice-controlled via a Siri-like feature called Aneeda. This meaning that the wearer can tell the digital personal assistant when to play a song, make a call, among number of other tasks. For those who prefer to type than speak, the Puls has a touch keyboard as well.
With its battery located all around the strap, the gadget delivers about five hours of continuous power, which means you’ll need to charge it daily. Luckily, power-ups should take less than an hour.
Not only will the smartwatch be equipped with Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities, it doesn’t need to be paired with a phone in order to have full-functionality. The untethered cuff, which boasts 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, even features applications like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the ability to text, read and write emails, and track your steps.
“This is not a watch, by any means,” will.i.am told the crowd. “Watches don’t have SIM cards. This is a new type of communication.”
And in true will.i.am fashion, he will also stay ahead of the curve… literally… by including curved display. Not only will this make for a better format to watch videos or read lengthy emails, but the “onscreen keyboard overcomes the challenge of small keys with software that accurately guesses words that are being typed within a few taps,” .
The Puls, which will hit stores before the end of the year, will start at $499 and be offered exclusively with carrier partner AT&T.
will.i.am emphasizes that, “This conversation that we’re having about wearables, the thing on your wrist that talks to your phone, that’s not the future… There’s no reason why the thing on your wrist shouldn’t be able to do everything. There’s no reason for it to talk to a phone at all.”
“Now there’s tools for people that have idea to quickly materialize them, the democratization of everything possible.” As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the technophile founder of the Black Eyed Peas has offered a ringing endorsement of the Maker Movement — surely not a surprise given his passion for innovation and recent creative roles at a number of tech giants.
“Every young person is going to be inspired to be a Maker from now on. It’s like how everyone used to want to be a vian, an actor, an athlete — but a Maker is what people are going to want to be.”