Not one to be left out, Microsoft is working on getting into the wearable tech game itself. While the company has yet to announce anything formally, a patent filing published in May shows that Microsoft has plans for something that looks a whole lot like a smartwatch. Since then, reports have swirled about what form that wearable might take, with more than a few recent reports claiming that it won’t be a smartwatch, but rather a smartband.
The difference is somewhat small, but still important. A smartwatch, as we’ve seen in recent demos of Android Wear, is a notification-heavy companion to your smartphone. A smartband, by contrast, does a bit less with a slimmer profile. The latter also tends to focus on collecting data and pushing it to your phone, rather than the other way around. According to a new report from Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott, Microsoft’s got a sensor-laden smartband in the works, and it’ll be out in the fourth quarter of the year.
Thurrott posts on Win Supersite that Microsoft’s smartband will use multiple sensors to “track your fitness – steps, calories burned, heart rate, and the like – throughout the day and interoperate with apps on mobile phones.” As for what kinds of phones, Thurrott corroborates reports that have come out of Forbes first: the Microsoft wearable will be cross-platform compatible, meaning it won’t matter what kind of smartphone you’ve got in your pocket. That’s potentially a big win for Microsoft, especially given the low adoption rate of Windows Phone in general. Being cross-compatible with iOS and Android might go a long way to helping the device succeed.
We’ve heard rumors about Microsoft’s interest in the wearable space since July of last year, with a report in December saying that Kinect-engineer Alex Kipman is involved in the project. Now, Thurrott says that it’ll hit in the latter part of 2014, while a recent post on Tom’s Hardware claims that the device will be out this October – just in time to compete with the iWatch, if that thing ever actually appears.
If this device actually comes out, it’ll be interesting to see how – or if – it can compete with the sudden explosion of high profile smartwatches coming out this year. Even without the iWatch, the market is far more crowded than it used to be. And a fitness-tracker from Microsoft seems like a bit of a limited application for what other companies like Samsung and Google are using as a major hardware and software platform.
With the recent news that Microsoft has put the kibosh on the Surface Mini, it makes me wonder whether or not a similar fate will befall the Microsoft smartband. I suppose we’ll find out one way or another this October.
[Source: Win Supersite]