Microsoft smartwatch to get always-on heart rate sensor, support for Android

We’ve been hearing about Microsoft working on a smartwatch for some time now, but no details about the wearable have surfaced yet. We last heard that it is talking to suppliers about designs, now a Forbes report suggests that Microsoft’s smartwatch will work with iPhones, Windows Phones as well as Android smartphones. This is quite unlike its arch-rivals, who have been building smartwatches limited to their own platforms. A cross-platform smartwatch seems like a great move from Nadella led Microsoft.


The report further adds that, the smartwatch will include a heart rate monitor, and will be capable of syncing data with the devices. The battery life is expected to last for two days, and the report further points out that we can expect a launch some time in summer. It has roped in the Kinect team to build the smartwatch. So, it is quite possible that the smartwatch may also support gesture-based commands, similar to what we lately saw in the leaked Samsung patents that hint at Android Wear smartwatch.


Though Microsoft seems late to the party, yet again, reports suggest that the smartwatch will be a step ahead of the existing clan of wearable fitness devices. Unlike the Gear Fit, Microsoft’s smartwatch will continuously monitor a person’s heart rate throughout the day. “Gear Fit requires users to turn on its heart-rate monitor. Microsoft’s device will track continuous heart rate over the course of a person’s day, sources say. The watch will look similar to the Samsung Gear Fit and feature a full-color touch screen about the size of half a stick of gum, positioned on the inside of the wearer’s wrist. The unorthodox screen-placing appears to be aimed at making it easier and more private to view notifications, adds Forbes”


With Kinect in tow, this isn’t the first time Microsoft is toying with wearables. TheVerge report points out, “it won’t be its first attempt at wearables for the mainstream. Back in 2004 it fielded a product under the name SPOT that used FM radio signals to send instant messages from Windows Messenger, news headlines, stock information, and weather forecasts as part of a paid subscription service. Production was stopped in 2008 and the SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) project was finally canceled in 2012.”


The cross-platform functionality and always-on heart rate monitor coupled with some other improved fitness features, would possibly work for Microsoft. Business Insider's Lisa Eadicicco believes, "It sounds as if Microsoft is planning to create a wearable that would address one of the biggest criticisms we've heard about smart watches so far. Most smart watches don't really offer much functionality that your phone doesn't already offer-making a $200-$300 product a hard sell for most consumers."


With an expected Summer release for the Microsoft smartwatch, it will be competing with Apple's iWatch, a slew of Google Android Wear-based smartwatches and also the current crop of smartwatches from Samsung, Pebble and Sony. Apple's iWatch is expected to work in tandem with the upcoming iPhone and a new fitness-based app called Healthbook.  Google's first batch of Android Wear based smartwatches come from LG and Motorola, G Watch and Moto 360, respectively. Acer has already given us a glimpse of its upcoming smart band. Samsung already has already launched some Gear smartwatches and is said to be working on a standalone watch-phone.

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