‘If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again’ seems to be Will-i-am’s moto as he launches his latest offering, a voice activated smartwatch named Dial.
Running on a bespoke operating system called AneedA, the device is the music producer’s second attempt to successfully enter the wearables market. Partly funded by the windfall he received when Beats was sold to Apple, it has been a while since the tech enthusiast last offering of the not so popular Puls Cuff back in 2014.
Dial, created by Will.i.am’s technology company i.am+, is not the musician’s only project that made him go mad scientist on us on. Previously Will.i.am partnered up with luxury fashion house Gucci to create a fashion-focused smartband device designed to operate independently from a phone and he also worked on an tech infused eyewear range with designer George Gorrow.
On close inspection, the new wearable bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor Puls. Bragging two megapixel front- facing cameras, Dial’s features also include a slightly wider screen that measures 1.63 inches across. The device makes and receives calls, sends emails, texts and plays music. For fitness fanatics, Dial can act as a fitness tracker and will track your fitness levels. The one feature we liked was that Dial has the ability to use its own SIM card which means that the built-in 4G mobile telecommunications system ensures that it does not need to sync to a phone or any other device. On this Will.i.am shared, “We’ve been working on a vision, a product and a platform that we believe will move the needle in popular culture. It is not tethered to a device, it is the device.”
With no integrated search engine all requested information by the wearer is supplied by third party partners that include Yelp and Wolfram Alpha. Although the official price is yet to be confirmed, there are whispers via the Telegraph that Dial will most likely cost an upfront fee of £20-£25 when you take out a 24 months contract at £20 per month, so it is quite affordable. For those interested in buying one, Dial will be available exclusively through UK’s Three mobile as of April 2016.
With many techies unimpressed by Dial, I do understand where they are coming from. It seems that Will.i.am’s good on paper idea has failed so miserably on its first outing because although the concept sounds great, the end product just doesn’t deliver. When you look at Dial, the design takes us back to where we were 2 years ago. To understand what I mean, all you need to do is compare Dial to what is currently being brought to market by other brands, like Fitbit’s Blaze. This is why I am baffled that for such a stylish ‘dude’ how the heck did he take such a nose dive when it came to the final design appeal of the device. Is it simply a case of asking too much? FashNerd managing editor Mano ten Napel put it best when he said, “WearableTech industry is in it’s infancy. When design disappoints, check your expectation level!”