Details emerge on Microsoft's wearable device (but don't call it a smartwatch)

Recent reports have revealed details on Microsoft's plans for a smartwatch - but as it turns out, it seems that the new wearable device may not actually be a smartwatch at all. 

The latest information comes via Paul Thurrott; as many of our readers will know, Thurrott is one of the most well-connected and respected journalists in Microsoft coverage, and while the details he has shared have not been officially confirmed by the company, he has an excellent track record that means you should be paying attention to what he says. 


An image from a Microsoft patent filing, showing fitness-related info on its display

According to his sources, the rumoured Microsoft device will indeed be a wearable, but it won't be a 'smartwatch' in the strictest sense. While it will display notifications fed through from a connected smartphone - and will probably tell you the time as well - the form factor will be less 'watch' and more 'wristband', with a strong focus on health and fitness. This fits nicely with a recent report from Forbes that said that the device will include eleven integrated sensors, which will track things like heart rate and the number of steps that you walk. 

Thurrott's sources have also confirmed some details that emerged in another report back in May, which claimed that the device will work with any smartphone. This will be a key differentiator for Microsoft's wristband compared with those of its rivals, which are 'locked in' to work only with certain devices. The Microsoft device, however, will reportedly work with Windows Phone, Android and iOS. It will also function with third-party apps - and presumably, wherever possible, it will also connect with on-device health hubs like Health in iOS 8 and Samsung's S Health. 

Finally, he says that the pricing of the Microsoft wristband will be in the same range as Samsung's Gear devices, and that it will be announced and released in the fourth quarter of this year. 

Let's just hope that it turns out better than Samsung's Galaxy Gear, which Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak described this week as "worthless"

Source: WinSuperSite.com | image via Microsoft

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smart watches are a flop. glass? maybe, but it has so far flopped to. unlike the iphone which made something you carry around better, nobody wants to wear a watch, smart or otherwise.

neonspark said,
smart watches are a flop. glass? maybe, but it has so far flopped to. unlike the iphone which made something you carry around better, nobody wants to wear a watch, smart or otherwise.

Way to go with the generalisation there, "... nobody wants to wear a watch, smart or otherwise." How would you know what everyone wants?

Smart watches haven't taken off yet because the Gear range, LG G watch and Moto 360 ONLY work with Android. Microsoft is changing this by developing one that works with ALL platforms, it's the game changer that smart watches need to be successful.

They will probably release it with support for iOS and Android and botch the WP support 6 months after release with less functionality.

I don't know why MS bothers being in every category, they will sell about 16 of the things. MS is suffering from a serious lack of focus and from trying to be Samsung and Apple.

derekaw said,
I don't know why MS bothers being in every category, they will sell about 16 of the things. MS is suffering from a serious lack of focus and from trying to be Samsung and Apple.

How many platforms will the iWatch work with? That's right, one. How many platforms does Android Wear work with? That's right, one. How many platforms will Microsoft's wearable work with? That's right, three.

Lack of focus and trying to imitate Samsung and Apple, I don't think so.

neo158 said,

How many platforms will the iWatch work with? That's right, one. How many platforms does Android Wear work with? That's right, one. How many platforms will Microsoft's wearable work with? That's right, three.

Lack of focus and trying to imitate Samsung and Apple, I don't think so.

Also, there no 'one to rule all' yet. Maybe this device by MS will fit all my needs for a smartwatch/fitness tracker. Add some linking to the HealthVault/Bing Fitness app and food tracker sites and there's an interesting product.

Stop hating MS because MS. It's already past 'being stale'....

I don't see you saying this on Google articles. If it was any tech company, Google is by far the most ubiquitous in trying to get something everywhere. Cars, home automation, cellular services, tablets, internet fiber, etc.

By your logic, "Google is suffering from a serious lack of focus and from trying to be Samsung and Apple."

TheCyberKnight said,
Collision course with Apple ahead...
It better have some "wow" factor otherwise, there will be blood.

The fact that this will work with WP, iOS and Android IS the wow factor. The iWatch will only work with the iPhone and Android Wear only works with Android.

You actually point out a very important feature. Meanwhile, for the consumers, I doubt it will be enough. The attraction "nice" gadgets have on consumers must not be underestimated.

TheCyberKnight said,
You actually point out a very important feature. Meanwhile, for the consumers, I doubt it will be enough. The attraction "nice" gadgets have on consumers must not be underestimated.

I don't know about that, having a device that works with iOS and Android as well as Windows Phone allows consumers to switch platforms whenever they want without buying another wearable.

If it turns out to be true, it's much better than I thought. I don't like the idea of having a second smartphone on my wrist. This could have really good use.

THIS is what I want! I don't need a "Sub-phone" on my wrist. Instead, I need an extension of sensors to fill the needs of other devices. Microsoft is catching on to what we need.

I don't carry a laptop AND a tablet. I want one to do both. Surface is born.
I don't have a "smartwatch" because I already have a phone that does everything the watch does (sans maybe heartrate).
I want a watch that has sensors to eliminate my Garmin foot pod, Garmin watch and HRM chest strap.

Finally Microsoft is tuned in.

It's just hilarious reading the comments of so many. It's a smartwatch, no it's a fitness band, no it's this , not it's that. Who cares in the long run what it's called? If it fills a need, that is what is important. If not, it will never see the light of day again.

Gergel7077 said,
It's just hilarious reading the comments of so many. It's a smartwatch, no it's a fitness band, no it's this , not it's that. Who cares in the long run what it's called? If it fills a need, that is what is important. If not, it will never see the light of day again.

It's a wearable, period.

Gergel7077 said,

So are hats, shirts and pants...how about underwearables...lol.

Ok, for someone like you who is nitpicking, wearable tech!!!

I remember old sci-fi shows from before the age of the Internet that showed people from the future wearing screens on their arms which were... about the size of a smartphone. And from it, they had access to tons of information. The funny thing is: we're there now. It just hasn't broken in to the fashion trends yet.

I think manufacturers will mess around with smartwatches for several years, but they will ultimately not be very successful. Even if you could manage to cram acceptable battery life into such a small space, the screen size will always be a limitation. Sooner or later, some manufacturer will say "screw this", and just start making arm computers. They may be a joke at first, but eventually they'll catch on after some fashion models and big-name movie stars are seen with them.

Whether or not you think arm computers are the next step, I do believe that many years from now people will look back at smartphones the same way that we look back at pocket watches.

Cool. Why not make a fitness band? Will probably have a bigger screen and is designed for fitness in mind... Not as a remake of a watch with voice controls. Seems like a good first stab at wearables on the wrist =).

Well I have a Polar Fitness watch which I'd imagine works far better at probably less money than anything Microsoft can 'develop'.

Sammyinnit said,
Well I have a Polar Fitness watch which I'd imagine works far better at probably less money than anything Microsoft can 'develop'.

Yes, because smaller companies can do things cheaper than larger ones?

What?

Sammyinnit said,

What?


Microsoft is a bigger company that can take losses to push products, or arrange production at scale more rapidly. It makes no sense to claim Microsoft can't be competitive on price.

Joshie said,

Microsoft is a bigger company that can take losses to push products, or arrange production at scale more rapidly. It makes no sense to claim Microsoft can't be competitive on price.


I think you're missing the point. What they're doing isn't new or innovative. Smart watches right now are being developed by a lot of tech giants and Microsoft decide to focus on the idea that's been done by others for years.

And I didn't mean they can't be competitive on price, I'm saying they won't be. Or at least I see it as very unlikely.

I'd like to question accuracy too. A lot, if not all of the current big HRM manufacturers require sensors to be strapped around your heart/chest area, GPS units fitted to bikes, pedometers fitted to ankles to give an highly accurate result. If there was so much accuracy from just wearing a wrist band I'm sure it would be more widely available already.

Sammyinnit said,


I think you're missing the point. What they're doing isn't new or innovative. Smart watches right now are being developed by a lot of tech giants and Microsoft decide to focus on the idea that's been done by others for years.

And I didn't mean they can't be competitive on price, I'm saying they won't be. Or at least I see it as very unlikely.

I'd like to question accuracy too. A lot, if not all of the current big HRM manufacturers require sensors to be strapped around your heart/chest area, GPS units fitted to bikes, pedometers fitted to ankles to give an highly accurate result. If there was so much accuracy from just wearing a wrist band I'm sure it would be more widely available already.


Humans still check your pulse on your wrist. If Kinect can get an accurate HR, then something strapped to you can.

JonnyLH said,

Humans still check your pulse on your wrist. If Kinect can get an accurate HR, then something strapped to you can.

I don't believe for a moment that can be accurate, at least not as accurate as I personally would like where it's crucial to have an accurate HR reading during high intensity cardio. Also as you mentioned, humans can. The area of your wrist can be quite vague and differ one person to the next. Probably why you'll find in hospitals heart rate monitors are attached to the chest of finger tips.

Sammyinnit said,

I don't believe for a moment that can be accurate, at least not as accurate as I personally would like where it's crucial to have an accurate HR reading during high intensity cardio. Also as you mentioned, humans can. The area of your wrist can be quite vague and differ one person to the next. Probably why you'll find in hospitals heart rate monitors are attached to the chest of finger tips.


I think being accurate in this sense means to the exact number. I can't imagine a device like this being a problem if it's off by 3 beats either way. Working out something based on averages and beats though is really not that hard.

I don't doubt technology.

Interesting. MS is most definitely differentiating here by not locking users to a certain hardware ecosystem and imo it will be a benefit to users in general let alone the chances of it selling well.

Like a lot of Ms services now its platform agnostic and it seems MS is positioning all its services as such. This can only be a good thing for users and I think in time may help change the perception of MS while the other big 2 continue to try to lock users as much as possible.

Melfster said,
no its not this different then what google is doing. Google watch basically google now on the watch.

Yeah this is more a device that fills in the functions of a watch but also collects data and send back to the smart device (phone).

Whereas google seem to want this device to fill in the functions of the smartphone as much as possible.

Melfster said,
no its not this different then what google is doing. Google watch basically google now on the watch.

It is a watch. You use the device to keep track of things... Aka watching the device for time, health stats, date, changes is weather. A watch had evolved lots over time just doesn't mean time anymore.

Google doesn't make the watches. Just the software. Others have smart watches on the market that do what was described in the OP.

I think not calling it a watch is smart. Watches are obsolete, if you tell someone you're selling them a watch, their mind automatically goes to "timepiece" and they think "I don't need that." Maybe watches have evolved, but the idea of a watch hasn't. Nobody thinks about the auxillary features when they think about a watch.

By not referring to it as a watch, they'll emphasize what's unique about it more. I still don't want anything on my wrist, but they've got more of a shot pitching it this way IMHO.

Melfster said,
no its not this different then what google is doing. Google watch basically google now on the watch.

which is stupid, when you have your smartphone in your pocket. I like more sensor based watch for fitness and other things on the wrist rather than a google now.