Multi-platinum selling singer will.i.am has boldly stepped into the wearables market with the launch of a smart device called Puls.
The device, which he said is not a watch but a “cuff” is designed to be a fashion forward product.
The device which the front man of the Black Eyed Peas launched at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, doesn’t rely on being linked to a smartphone but instead has its own chip to connect to a cellular network.
In a spectacular one and half hour launch featuring music, models even a grateful student from will.i.am’s program to help disadvantaged kids from his poor neighbourhood in Los Angeles, will.i.am announced partnerships with mobile phone providers in the US and UK. There is no announcement yet on its availability in Australia, or what the watch would be priced at.
The five centimetre wide ‘cuff’ comes with a number of apps including the ability to send SMS, emails, play music and check social networks but it also has a number of unique features including an app that is able to read the mood of the wearer by detecting changes in voice tones.
The device will also rely on more natural commands, allowing wearers to access their contacts with phrases like “call that girl I met yesterday.” It will feature a Siri-like service call ‘AneedA’ – as in “I need-ta know how long it will take to get to the next meeting,” will.i.am said.
Wearable devices are a hot new commodity in Silicon Valley, with multiple firms attempting to corner the market. Until Apple’s Watch, announced last month, however, there has been more of an emphasis on function over form.
Will.i.am at least has the street cred to give other products a run for their money on that score. During the press conference, the singer said that when he helped found Beats headphones with rapper Dr. Dre the product was designed so well that people were happy to wear the headphones, even when they weren’t listening to music. “We created the first wearable,” he said. Beats was sold to Apple for $US 3 billion in August.
He even brought on stage the former Editor-at-Large of Vogue US, André Leon Talley who told the 5000 strong mostly tech attendees at the event that wearables as designed by tech firms had been “terrible until now,” and that the launch of the product is “big”.
Puls is also being designed to work with a variety of clothing, with the singer planning to release a line of jackets, backpacks and shoes to complement the device. The jacket would be able to charge the device simply by the sleeve rubbing on it, while shoes would come with inbuilt scales to help the wearer make better use of the fitness app that comes with the phone. The backpack would double as a speaker.
Alone, the device should give about five hours of battery life.
Jackson Hewett attended the Dreamforce conference as a guest of Salesforce