William launches his pricey iam camera accessories for the iPhone, we go handson video

So, we learned two things today. Firstly, Will.i.am is able to attract quite a media scrum, and secondly, national press photographers have sharp elbows. Nevertheless, we braved the London debut of the Black Eyed Peas star's i.am+ iPhone accessories and fortunately came away with more than just Elephunk-sized bruises. We got some brief playtime with the gadgets, plus an interview with the CEO of Will.i.am's tech venture -- none other than Chandra Rathakrishnan of Fusion Garage fame (or notoriety). If you're wondering if we asked him why anyone would spend upwards of £199 ($315) on a wide-angle lens attachment when a really decent alternative can be had for a fraction of that cost, then hopefully the video and early impressions after the break will satisfy your curiosity.

i.am+ iPhone camera accessories hands-on

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It's worth pointing out that these accessories do slightly more than just give your iPhone a wide-angle view of the world -- and in fact there are quite a few different models that all do different things. They're as follows:

  • The foto.sosho C.4 is the basic model at £199, which includes a flash module, three interchangeable lenses (macro, fish-eye and clear glass) and a grip to make it easier to wield your iPhone 4 or 4S like a point-and-shoot. Aside from these functions, the device is largely about aesthetics -- and the white and gold C.4 we played with certainly makes a statement, if that's what you're into.
  • The foto.sosho V.4 is for those who prefer vintage styling. It costs £299 ($415) and adds a slide-out backlit QWERTY keyboard that pairs with your phone over Bluetooth. Like the C.4, it's only compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S. Also like the C.4, it'll go on sale December 6th exclusively at Selfridges in London.
  • The foto.sosho V.5 and "luxury" L.5 (also with QWERTY) persist with the excessive punctuation, but otherwise take a very different approach to "social-digital photography," as explained below. They won't be available until early next year, with pricing yet to be announced, and they'll only play nice with the iPhone 5.

The all-black V.5 we held was a non-working prototype, but Rathakrishnan tells us it'll do something no other accessory currently does, by circumventing Apple's camera components and using its own 14-megapixel sensor and 5x zoom lens to provide superior image quality. We have no idea how it'll do that, or whether it will deliver on its promises better than the ill-fated JooJoo and Grid10 ever did, so we'll just have to wait and see.

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will.i.am Launches a Global First: i.am+ foto.sosho, a Revolution in Portable Lifestyle Technology

November 28, 2012 London – musician and entrepreneur, will.i.am, and the world's best department store, Selfridges have today officially unveiled will.i.am's breakthrough i.am+™ foto.sosho™ fashion camera accessory, for iPhone 4/4s. Adding a new twist to the rapidly expanding world of social-digital photography sector, i.am+ foto.sosho combines the form and function of a camera with the real-time aspect of an iPhone.

i.am+ foto.sosho is the world's first digital camera accessory and app combination designed to turn an iPhone 4/4s into a sophisticated point and shoot digital camera with on-board editing, filters and social media connectivity. The i.am+ foto.sosho iPhone 4/4s models will be available exclusively at Selfridges London from December 6, 2012.

As the worlds of digital media, consumer electronics and social media continue to collide, will.i.am further streamlines smart phones into a single multi tasking, high quality imagery social hub, with a unique social versatility. Smart phones are instantly transformed into point and shoot cameras by the i.am+ accessories that offer onboard photo editing, filters and sharing are all built into a 14 mega pixel lens.

will.i.am comments "i.am proud to finally launch the i.am+ foto.sosho app and camera to the world from London. Our product fuses fashion with technology, changing the way you look at a smart phone...the i.am+ foto.sosho camera will make your smart phone brilliant..."

Selfridges London will showcase i.am+ camera accessories in three different departments in the London store. A team of specially trained i.am+ Evangelists will demonstrate the camera accessories in the flagship space experience on the ground floor womens accessories. Customers will also be able to purchase the camera accessories from first floor menswear and in the Technology Hall.

David Walker-Smith, Selfridges Buying Director comments "We are incredibly excited to launch this global exclusive with will.i.am. We are a forward thinking business, always looking for new and exciting opportunities to give our customers extraordinary shopping experiences. We are delighted to be the first and exclusive retail outlet for i.am+ and help will.i.am to trailblaze a new path into 21st century technology and social media interaction."

In tandem with the launch of the i.am+ camera accessory and app, will.i.am is offering early buyers of the i.am+ camera accessory the first opportunity to secure an i.am+ profile within the "i.am" domain. Profiles will include a unique short web URL such as "http://i.am/will." As i.am+ builds its offerings with additional hardware products and services, i.am+ profile users will have access to new collaborative and social features.

will.i.am founded and self-funds the development and manufacturing of i.am.plus, LLC, a global business operation with team experts located in China, Denmark, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States countries. i.am+ started as an initial concept in February, 2012, and then expanded to the product design and rapid prototyping phase in June, 2012. Working with a group of veteran mobile phone and tablet design and manufacturing experts based in California, Singapore and China, the team dramatically compressed the conventional consumer electronics project timelines to deliver the first i.am+ foto.sosho camera accessory models to retail on December 6, 2012 exclusively at Selfridges & Co for the 2012 holiday shopping season.

i.am+ foto.sosho i.am+ models turbo charge iPhone 4s to combines the form and function of a camera with the real-time aspect of an iphone. The iPhone5 foto.sosho model, coming soon, will push it up a notch by adding its own 14 mega-pixel sensor and 5x zoom to the mix.

Highlights
· foto.sosho fits over iPhone4/4s models so there is no need to carry a separate camera to take, customize and share great pictures
· included in iPhone 4/4s standard package include: standard, fish-eye, and wide lenses. The deluxe iPhone 4/4s package includes: standard, fish-eye, wide and zoom lenses.
· Shoot, edit, share and send photos all with the same hardware. Control the built-in flash, and then edit photos immediately after shooting, including applying real-time filters and image adjustments. No need to wait to download photos to a computer to edit, apply filters and share.
· The companion app that turns i.am+ foto.sosho into a social photography experience is free. Download it from the iTunes App Store and link it to your i.am+ foto.sosho camera accessory.
· Instantly share photos via social media channels
· Store photos in your individual and free i.am domain account, customized to your name, such as i.am/john, i.am/Watson
· Photo Stream – check out your own stream, your friends' photo streams, people you follow, or the public/community photo stream

Models for iPhone 4s
foto.sosho C.4 (modern look camera for iPhone 4/4s).
· Lens included: Standard, 0.67x Wide Macro, 0.28x Fisheye.

· Point and shoot available in two body colors: black or white.

· Price: 199 pounds (iPhone 4 not included).
foto.sosho V.4 (vintage look camera for iPhone 4/4s) includes a slide-out keyboard.

· Lens included: Standard, 0.67x Wide Macro, 0.28x Fisheye.

· Available in two colors: white & gold or black & silver.

· Price: 299 pounds (iPhone 4 not included)

Models for iPhone 5 – coing soon
foto.sosho V.5 (vintage look camera for iPhone 5) (coming soon)

· Available in sliver and brown leather, all white leather or all black leather.

foto.sosho L.5 (luxury camera for iPhone 5)
includes slide-out keyboard

· Available in sliver and brown leather, all white leather or all black leather.

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Will.i.am launches pricey i.am+ camera add-ons for iPhone, we go hands on (video)