A lot of people were left scratching their heads when Intel announced in January that Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am had become the company’s director of creative innovation. But according to Johan Jervoe, vice president of Intel’s sales and marketing group, Will.i.am initially approached Intel himself. “Will found us. Will is—and I hope I say this in the right way—a super geek when it comes to technology. It became very clear in the beginning that he was wildly interested in having an early conversation to influence product development, engineering development, but also in having an opportunity to inform himself about what is possible in the future and to be able to create art in a different way.”
Because Intel doesn’t typically sell consumer products, it’s unlikely that an Intel Core i.am chip will ship in your next laptop. Jervoe told us that Intel brings Will.i.am in to think things through in the early stages of product development and engineering with the ultimate goal being to create a better user experience using the talents and perspective of an artist without a pure tech background.
Whereas Iovine and Dr. Dre brought a very specific idea of the sound they wanted to HP, Will.i.am’s partnership with Intel is more of a free-form collaboration with the company’s engineers. At Intel’s internal TechFest conference in Oregon, Jervoe sat in on a conversation between the artist/producer and Intel personnel. “Will is a person you bring into a room with a huge amount of intelligence around engineering, around hardware and software, and five minutes in—as the business person—you’re kind of already outside of the conversation,” Jervoe said. “They feed off each other’s thinking, they feed off each other’s innovation and creative mindset and challenge each other in a very engineering, very university, college kind of way where there’s really this whole eagerness and energy in the room.”
Intel’s collaboration with Will.i.am seems to have worked out as more of motivational speaker type of arrangement. The artist is said to be working on his own version of the chip maker’s iconic “Bum ba bum” sound. Though Intel has intimated that Will.i.am-influenced products are coming, nothing had been officially announced as of press time.