Microsoft Enters Wearables With Fitness Band

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Microsoft Band targets the health and fitness market, and is compatible with Apple, Android and Windows Phone

Microsoft has finally entered the wearable market, according to leaked details of its upcoming Microsoft Band on various app stores.

In appearance, the Microsoft Band looks similar to Samsung’s Gear Fit in that it comes with a horizontal display. But what sets it apart from its rivals is the fact that it connects to a number of social networks, and runs across all mobile operating systems.

Fitness Market

The Microsoft Band does seem to contain some smartphone-like features such as email, text messaging, social updates, the personal assistant Cortana, calender, and timer and alarm. And the Band can also handle incoming calls and voicemail notifications.

A video of the Microsoft Band can be found here.

Microsoft-Band2That said, the Band seems to mostly concentrate on the health and fitness market, and can monitor your steps, heart rate, calories burned, and other key health attributes. Microsoft is also reportedly testing the ability to monitor heart rate through the day and night.

The arrival of the Microsoft Band was revealed when listings appeared on a number of app stores. Listings for the Microsoft Band are now on the Windows Phone app store, the Google Play store, and the Mac App Store (it also compatible with iOS).

Soon after, the Microsoft Band gained an official presence on Microsoft’s American online store, which revealed more details about the device. It will retail for $199 (£124) and will go on sale this week in the United States, just in time for the Christmas period.

Band Specs

The Microsoft Band is Bluetooth 4.0 enabled and has ten sensors in total that includes optical heart rate sensor, 3-axis accelerometer/gyro, gyrometer, GPS, ambient light sensor, skin temperature sensor, UV sensor, capacitive sensor, galvanic skin response, and a microphone.

It comes with a capacitive 1.4″ TFT full colour display, with a resolution of 320 x 106 pixels and measuring 11mm x 33mm in size. The dual 100mAh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery promises two days of power between recharges, but GPS usage can impact this. That said, a two day charge puts the Microsoft Band well ahead of its competitors, most of which need to be charged at least once a day.

The Microsoft Band also comes with the Microsoft Health app, which reveals that the band will store and sync its data to the cloud. It will also apparently integrate with Microsoft Office.

Rumours of a Microsoft smartwatch first emerged last year. Originally envisioned as an Xbox accessory, Redmond opted to switch focus to gain a slice of the ever-growing wearables market.

And earlier this month reports hinted that the smartwatch would arrive before Christmas.

Analyst firm Juniper Research recently predicted that the number of smartwatches worldwide is expected to pass 100 million within the next five years, as the range of devices on the market increases dramatically. Recent research from YouGov found that the UK public is keen to embrace the smartwatch, with the penetration of wearable devices in the UK expected to more than double by September 2015

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