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Gucci and Will.i.am team up for luxury, phone-free smart band

The fashion house and the former Black Eyed Peas star have partnered on an upcoming smart band, which will operate independently of a phone.

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BASEL, Switzerland -- Luxury fashion brand Gucci and musician Will.i.am are making a new fashion-focused smartband. Although no new product was officially unveiled at the Baselworld watch fair here, the former Black Eyed Peas star promised that the device will operate independently of a phone.

Both Will.i.am and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri were wearing early prototypes. The devices appeared to be thick, wide bands that wrap around the wrist, rather than a typical watch face that houses the processor. They certainly didn't look particularly sleek -- or even that attractive -- but it's almost certain Gucci will have a tinker with the design before it goes on sale.

"A lot of people are creating wearable devices from a tech background. Gucci has been putting things on your body for years," Will.i.am said. "[Wearable tehnology] is being dictated by the wrong folks. We like to call it fashionology. It's where fashion and technology meet."

Will.i.am did discuss some of the band's features, including a front-facing camera for video calling on the move, a heart-rate sensor, temperature sensor and GPS. The band will be 3G-enabled, allowing it to make calls, send texts and connect to social networks without being tethered to a phone.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Most current smartwatches -- including Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch -- need to be connected to a phone in order to provide smart functions. One exception is the LG Watch Urbane LTE , which has its own 4G LTE data connection and can make calls too.

Asked how the band would fare against rivals, Will.i.am stated, "It's the dopest one."