i.am+ meets Three as will.i.am again regurgitates his tech mogul dreams

There was a time when Digixav was a place where things were written with occasional regularity. One day, such a thing may again be true. We even talked into dodgy microphones from time to time and joked about things that seemed either relevant or humorous in the period between 2011 and 2013 until our conversations, and the objects of mockery themselves, largely descended into oblivion. Fortunately for us, one of them is reemerging like an intoxicated butterfly piercing its cocoon of inevitable gimmickry.

i.am+, the firm with a name as catchy as any one of the zero successful releases from will.i.am’s four years of The Voice protégés, seems to now be in its third and likely most economically-feasible incarnation yet. It began in 2012 as a way of Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan of Fusion Garage fame making the bungled CrunchPad/JooJoo and Grid 10 tablet launches look effective, partnering with the sometime Black Eyed Pea to launch the foto.sosho, an iPhone camera case with a slide-out keyboard. Sold (barely) by Selfridges and featured the video for his ‘Scream & Shout‘ collaboration with Britney Spears, it picked up one of our awards at the end of 2012 and

Amidst fabricated buzzwords like “fashionology” followed the Puls smartwatch two years later, and you’d think Intel’s Director of Creative Innovation might have been able to produce something a little bit better now that he was competing with, and not shoddily augmenting, the products of the company that acquired the headphone firm he had a founding role in. Alas, no. Dan Seifert of The Verge called it “the worst product I’ve tried all year.” Wearing one on each wrist during appearances on equally awful television shows didn’t seem to reinvent any wheels. Instead, it seemed like the musician’s apparent obsession with plastering a contraction of his name on some zeitgeisty gadget was ultimately just squandering the proceeds of his prior successes. So he got Lexus to pay him to decorate a car.

To not be cynical about whatever garbage the pair are bringing us this time would be more ridiculous than thinking that buying a $415 case for a year-old iPhone in order to get a cheap lens accessory and a physical keyboard was justifiable. Lo and behold, it’s another smartwatch.

i.am+ Dial

The Dial, launched this week, operates independently of your phone but doesn’t replace it.  Only available through Three, whose recent decisions have appropriately been quite shoddy, it’ll have a two-year contract and zero apps because “the last paradigm was the apps thing,” will.i.am says. Lounging around alongside Chandra once again – like two old buddies tend to do in front of assembled press who are either gullible, desperate, or looking for a laugh – the Dial’s AneedA operating system “doesn’t replace your smartphone” and seems to function a lot like Siri or Cortana or Google Now or any one of the pre-existing voice-based personal assistants that actually have ecosystems and come from companies with a proven track record of producing products that aren’t utter guff.

Speaking to The Sun about it all, his only vague inference of a USP – the ability to have one Three number across multiple devices including laptops and tablets without any roaming charges – comes across garbled and not technically accurate. Chandra didn’t seem to get any press attention this time, and the whole project will likely fade into obscurity once again until one of the serial entrepreneurial failures flushes out the BEP royalty fund in the name of #innovation.

See you in 2018 for the drone, I guess.