Musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am revealed his new wearable "Puls" wrist device yesterday at Dreamforce 2014 in San Francisco yesterday, answering many questions about his plans for entering the technology fashion market, but also leaving many key details still to be disclosed.
The Puls is worn as a wrist cuff and will run apps, make phone calls, text, stream music, and monitor fitness. It has one gigabyte of memory, 16 gigabytes of storage, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS, an accelerometer and a pedometer. "It's a new type of communication on your wrist," said Will.i.am.
What is particularly intriguing about the new device is that it has a SIM card (a first for wearable technology) and is "untethered," meaning that it operates independently of any smartphone on the market today. Will.i.am's presentation at the huge Salesforce annual conference also revealed that the cuff's 3G carrier in the United States will be AT&T and O2 in the United Kingdom.
The Puls will be powered by an Android-based platform and a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It is being offered in blue, red, pink, white and black, along with solid gold and gold with diamonds.
In addition to AT&T and O2, other partners include Nuance who will run the device's voice assistant (called Aneeda), Humin who will provide the ability for the Puls-to-Puls exchange of information on contact, and ESRI, a map tools maker. Will.i.am mentioned an agreement with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp yesterday to "reimagine journalism and the flow of information," but did not provide any details.
The Puls is a device that offers great promise to transform the wearable technology fashion world, but yesterday's announcement left many questions unanswered. Key among these is: will the wearable wrist product actually work?
Over the course of the nearly 90 minute presentation on the Dreamforce stage, there was only one brief live demonstration of the Puls when a fitness trainer joined Will.i.am and showed how the device could monitor motion and play music. The sound quality was poor and the view of the wrist screen nonexistent on the big monitors in the hall. The rest of the product's other features were not demonstrated live.
This could become a problem for Will.i.am who has previously made several appearances wearing the Puls on television, but recent press accounts reported that the device did not work.
Another big question is price. The musician did not announce this key detail, although in a meeting with the press following his presentation yesterday he said it would be substantially less than a smartphone.
There was also no indication of when the Puls will be delivered other than a statement from Will.i.am that it will ship during the holiday season.
The Puls is the second product from i.am.+, Will.i.am's company which has been funded from his music revenue and investment in Beats (recently acquired by Apple). In 2012 the musician introduced Foto.sosho, a $400 iPhone case that attempted to double as a camera with a keyboard. It did not sell well.
Stating that "it's inevitable that technology and fashion will come together," Will.i.am also brought models to the stage who were attired in clothing designed to complement his new product. He showcased a black mesh jacket that would charge the Puls when the sleeve came in contact with the device.
Calling his clothing "Pow-Wear," Will.i.am also exhibited shoes that would report your current weight and a backpack equipped with both sound and power. There was no indication when or where these new products would be available for actual use.
"When we started Beats, the tech world didn't take us seriously," said Will.i.am near the end of his Dreamforce presentation. Perhaps they will now, but proof of concept still remains to be seen.