Move over, Apple, there’s a new high-tech accessory targeting the fashion set, and this one's backed by a Grammy-winning rapper and producer. Called Puls, the just-launched smartwatch was created by Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am’s company, i.am+. It runs its own version of Android and can be used to make phone calls, send texts, send and receive emails, and even listen to music. And, will.i.am is showing it off for the first time tonight in San Francisco.
“We’re trying to complete the conversation around wearables,” he told us today during an early demo of the watch. He feels that the worlds of fashion and the tech haven’t yet truly connected, and he wants to bring them together with this device and an entire line of associated products, including bags, jackets, and shoes.
“The Puls is the sun that all these things orbit,” said will.i.am, going on to describe jackets that can carry a charge and, “will give you two to three days of use." And, this launch doesn't just have above-the-waist wearables in its sights. The team has "collaborated with a couple of up-and-coming fashion houses in Australia and Korea; we have shoes that can weigh you and count your steps.”
Puls is based on a more stylish cuff design, rather than attempting to look completely watch-like. "We came from the perspective of a fashion avenue, not Silicon tech,” will.i.am explained. “If a woman would wear a Chanel cuff that does nothing, then she would wear this device that does something and also has the same design sensibility.”
And, although the wearable takes aim at the fashion world, the tech inside was also carefully considered.
“It still has a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. It still has 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. It still has all the specs,” said will.i.am. The screen resolution is 180 x 288, a little less than Galaxy's comparable piece.
When you get the watch, you’ll sign in using your Google ID, a move that will port all your contacts over from your phone and also give you access to your email. Email also works with Yahoo and Exchange systems.
Unlike most other smart watches out there (including Apple’s) the Puls has its own SIM card. That means you can make calls from the watch and send text messages even when your phone isn’t around. A 3G data connection allows you to navigate to your next destination using the watch’s Maps app, and a watch-specific streaming music service allows you to bring your tunes along, too.
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook apps keep you connected to social media from your wrist, and a built-in assistant called Anneda (pronounced “I need a”) works like Siri to give you information about the weather or anything else you need. She can even tweet and send texts for you.
Puls will be available this holiday season at select AT&T stores. Will.i.am isn’t quite ready to announce pricing, but says to expect it to be “affordable.” He also says to expect the device to be used in a lot more situations than just the gym.
“I can see a band going out there and performing from the wrist… You guys ready? Turn my wrist up.”