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Will.i.am Puls 'smart cuff' wearable officially revealed - with terrible battery life

Tom Morgan
16 Oct 2014
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Because who wouldn't buy their technology from a musician, rather than a company that's been making gadgets for years?

Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am has officially announced his i.am+ company's first wearable - the Puls 'smart cuff'. Launched by the man himself on stage at the Dreamforce conference in the US last night, the chunky wrist-worn gadget follows in the footsteps of Samsung's Gear S smartwatch as a standalone wearable that doesn't need to be paired to a smartphone.

Puls reportedly took a team of 35 engineers two and a half years to build. The result is essentially a smartphone you wear on your wrist, complete with 3G connectivity, SIM card, speakers and a 2in touchscreen. It can be used to make calls, send texts, track your daily exercise using a pedometer and accelerometer, find your location with GPS and connect wirelessly to a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

It also has a digital voice assistant, the hideously American-sounding AneedA. This will let users dictate text messages, make calls, post to Facebook, or perform web searches, but you'll look like a tool doing it.

An unnamed Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, paired with 1GB of RAM, provides the power, while 16GB of storage should leave plenty of room for music. It runs the almost antiquated Android 4.1 operating system, rather than a newer version like Jelly Bean or KitKat, with a custom interface on top. There's no Play store access, with the i.am+ team developing an API and custom app store, so you're unlikely to get much in the way of third-party support at launch - or ever, considering developers are already in a three way tie for Samsung's Tizen, Apple's Apple Watch OS and Google's Android Wear.

Will.i.am says Puls "leapfrogs what is currently on the market". We say he's deluded, as it will barely last a pitiful five hours on a single charge. Models wearing jackets equipped with battery packs to extend that life were brought on stage following the reveal, which can reportedly extend battery life up to two days, but we'd rather have better longevity than be forced to wear a particular outfit just to take our wearable out of the house.

If you're determined to buy one anyway, O2 will be the exclusive Puls supplier here in the UK. “Music and technology are in O2’s DNA, which is why we’re so excited to be giving O2 customers the opportunity to exclusively get their hands on the Puls in the UK," Nina Bibby, O2's Director of Marketing and Consumer, said of the announcement. "We’re committed to bringing our customers the latest and most innovative devices and with Puls they will be able to explore a whole new level of connectedness.  By combining cutting edge technology with music and fashion, the Puls has the power to revolutionise wearable technology."

Price and availability have yet to be confirmed. 

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