Will.i.am partners with O2 for wearable cuff launch

Will.i.am is partnering with O2 in the UK for the launch of his much-hyped wearable cuff Puls, a product the mobile company’s marketing boss claims will ”revolutionise people’s opinions of wearable technology”.

The device has been developed by the musician and entrepreneur’s i.am business and, as many reports predicted, it houses a SIM card meaning users can make calls without being connected to a smartphone.

“First off, this is not a watch by any means,” says the star.

“This is a cuff and we designed it from the perspective of fashion… If you say technology you expect one thing. If you say fashion it’s a different world.”

Users can make calls, send emails and texts through the device, use it as a fitness tracker, view maps and stream music – the functionality for which is baked into the operating system – in what the star describes as “untethered awesomeness”.

It has 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, 1gb of memory and 16gb of storage. It also features a curved screen and will be available in a range of colours as well as solid gold and diamond versions although a release date and prices have yet to be confirmed.

O2’s UK marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby believes the Puls device will fundamentally change the way people view the wearables market going forward.

“The Puls will revolutionise people’s opinions of wearable technology and the way they use it because consumers can go beyond fitness tracking and email to experience a whole new level of connectedness,” she says.

“We have a passion for driving innovation and encouraging people to explore the possibilities of technology. We’re excited about the way the digital revolution is transforming lives and opening up incredible new opportunities, not just opportunities in business but education, healthcare and for young people, and the cuff embodies all of that.”

“The Puls will revolutionise people’s opinions of wearable technology”

Will.i.am has also partnered with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to “reimagine journalism and the way it relates to wearables and asking questions” although he didn’t expand on how the two companies would achieve this.

In 2013 just 9.7 million wearable devices were sold but researchers at CCS Insight predict global sales will reach 135 million by 2018 thanks to the the introduction of devices like this and those of other big players such as Apple, which unveiled its first product in the category in September. 

Wrist-worn devices are expected to account for 87 per cent of wearables sold in 2018, which will be made up of 68 million smart watches and 50 million smart bands.

The Apple Watch, which is expected for release at the beginning of next year, must be paired with an iPhone unlike the Puls device, while Samsung’s Gear S smart watch has its own SIM meaning it too doesn’t need to be tethered to a mobile to make calls.

Will.i.am already has ties with technology through his role as director of creative innovation at Intel where he “conceptualises the next frontier of interactive technology by acting as an idea generator” according to his website, and last year he launched the i.am+ foto.soho iPhone case, which is designed to make the in-built camera more social.