Will.i.am announced on Wednesday at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference his latest entry into technology with the Puls, a smart wearable band that he adamantly insists “is not a watch”.
While Will.i.am is by far most well known for his music, whether it be solo work or with the Black Eyed Peas, he also has a long, and passionate history with tech. From serving as a Creative Director for Intel, to being a founding stakeholder in Beats Electronics, he isn’t by any means a new comer into the technology. In fact, his company i.am+ even launched an iPhone case last year called foto.sosho that turned the phone into a neck-worn camera with a keyboard, changeable lenses, built-in flash, and photo editing capabilities.
Continuing that passion, his company launched the Puls, their first entry into wearables. Separating itself from many other wrist-worn wearables, Puls is not meant to be just a smartphone-connected device. Instead, and most notably, the bracelet comes with a SIM card, allowing it to make calls straight from Puls, features independent 3G, as well as GPS. Additionally, Puls comes Wi-fi, Bluetooth, music player,as well as a voice-powered navigator called Aneeda (“I need A…”) that is powered by the speech-tech company Nuance.
Besides what is inside Puls, Will.i.am’s big push for differentiation stems from what the categorical difference between his device and other wearables. The idea is that Puls is for everyone, breaking down the niche barriers that have been holding back wearables from entering the mainstream. The first way he plans on doing that is through the design of it, entering a new category called “fashionology”. From a design standpoint, Puls appears larger than most similar wearables, resembling a bangle or cuff rather than a smartwatch- again, a distinction he is very proud of.
And he has plans to release more for Puls, such as a jacket that charges Puls by touching it, or shoes that connect with Puls for step counting and for weighing yourself. If the device performs like Will.i.am believes it does, Puls could present a very interesting challenge to other wearable makers, and perhaps even make them shift the way they think about designing them.