William Adams, better known as Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, is on the verge of launching a whole bunch of innovative new tech products, with backing from tech heavyweight Salesforce.com.
Adams gave a tour of his fantastic LA engineering studio to MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow, where he showed off his new smartwatch, a backpack music speaker that doubles as a charging station, and jackets that embed streaming music and power charging right into the fabric.
Now he’s invested $US15 million of his own money, plus an undisclosed sum from Salesforce.com, into his tech startup, i.am+, for two reasons: (1) He’s just plain full of ideas, and (2) he’s an inner-city kid who wants to show other kids that technology is a dream career.
“For me, it’s not about money,” Adams told Farrow. “This is about a void I see that I want to fill … And education is one of those things, encouraging kids in the inner city to take an interest in something that they probably never thought they should be interested in.”
“Most kids in the inner city, the first thing that comes to their mind when it comes to careers isn’t mathematics or coding. Some of them are going to say I want to play basketball, or I want to play football. … Those career paths are amazing career paths, but not everybody is going to become LeBron James … Jay Z … The Black Eyed Peas,” he says.
He also wants US schools to step up the tech education, teaching kids how to use and code for iOS, Android, and Microsoft devices.
“Those are the biggest businesses in America. You would think, in America, that kids are learning those tools,” he said.
So he plans to build his own tech company to be a role model.
And he’s working on some amazing things. He’s got a backpack that looks like a triangular throwback to the old boom-box days, except it works with your smartwatch and recharges it, solving the battery length problem.
And if a futuristic back-pack isn’t your thing, how about a futuristic jacket that powers your device through the sleeves?
Next up, of course, is the release of his long-awaited new smartwatch, called PULS, that combines a smartphone, cell phone, and music streaming, officially launched this week.
It will be available through AT&T in the US and O2 in the UK. It has a bunch of bells and whistles like fitness tracking, voice-command, and access to social networks. It can even detect your emotions just by listening to your voice.
The watch is expected to be available for the holiday season. The price has not yet been disclosed, but it’s supposed to be less than a smartphone.
Here’s the full tour of will.i.am’s L.A. studio.