Musician and technology entrepreneur, will.i.am, challenged Apple to a race for time yesterday when he demonstrated his new smartwatch called PULS, a competitor to Apple’s smartphones and watch, just 24 hours before Apple’s latest product launch today. will.i.am, long time member of the Black Eyed Peas, launched the PULS at this week’s Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.
During an almost 90-minute presentation the man most commonly known for his hip-hop music skills showed off his high-tech expertise with what he told his audience to call a “cuff…” According to some fortunate enough to have attended the today’s launch at Dreamforce, the PULS “looks more like a cuff than a watch.”
The device is said to be capable of operating at least one dozen commonly operated apps such as music, fitness, maps and social media, as well as making phone calls. will.i.am said the PULS was crafted to be worn throughout the day. Describing his device as an “app-infused wrist wearable,” the tech fashion guru said it “can do everything a phone can, and more.”
“This is not a watch, by any means,” will.i.am said. “Watches don’t have SIM cards. This is a new type of communication.” will.i.am is not sharing many technical details of his new product, but he has said that it contains a “Qualcomm Snapdragon chip” and has a continuous battery life of about five hours.
Challenging Apple’s long-time favorite smartphone assistant Siri with the help voice activated Aneeda, will.i.am’s race for time is being measured by his autonomous PULS watch. The Android powered device is operated by touch and automatically connects to cellular networks without the need for pairing with a smartphone.
But far from focusing on the glitz and glamor of his very public launch of his very high-tech product, will.i.am, who has been involved in Silicon Valley’s tech scene for a number of years, told The Wall Street Journal that his aim is to present young people with the possibilities ideas of being “the next Bill Gates,” rather than aspiring to become famous through music or sports. The PULS creator said being famous for his music is a disadvantage when trying to encourage kids to get involved with technology, and gaining his own “tech credibility” is essential in his plan.
“We all are moving to encourage kids in inner cities to take an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” he said in an interview. “…for me to tell a kid to take an interest in computer science and I’m nowhere in that field—that’s a tall order.” will.i.am is counting on the PULs smartwatch to help him make his point.
will.i.am is no stranger to business and technology. The Black Eyed Peas frontman has served as Intel’s creative director and has a stake in Beats Electronics – the company that created the popular headphones and was bought by Apple last August for a reported $3 billion. The musician/entrepreneur has previously launched tech products with minimal success through his startup i.am.plus, which launched the i.am+ foto.sosho iPhone cases. The cases, which are worn around the neck, did not take off as hoped.
However this does not seem to have deterred the rapper who launched his latest device in what has been described as feeling like a “coming-out party for the new, coolest guy in tech.” With Apple expected to unveil its newest iPads tomorrow to join its growing family of smartphones and products, will.i.am’s PULS watch looks set to present yet another challenge as the world’s technology giants race for time.
By Monica Grant
Photo by Eddie Codel – Flickr License