Microsoft has thrown its hat into the burgeoning wearables ring, announcing a health-tracking wristband designed to sync cross-platform and offer a combination of health monitoring and simple smartwatch-like capabilities.
Dubbed the Microsoft Band, the company's first commercial wearable since its ill-fated SPOT partnership with watch-maker Fossil looks to capture market share from rivals including Fitbit and Jawbone. The device is designed to be worn at all times of the day and night, using ten sensors to monitor everything from heart rate to sleep quality and track them in a cross-platform mobile application dubbed Microsoft Health - available at-launch on Android and iOS as well as Microsoft's own Windows Phone platform.
The data tracked by the app will, Microsoft promises, offer insights by combining its historical information with other Microsoft-based products and services through what the company has called its Intelligence Engine. Using this Engine, the company claims, allows for 'more powerful insights
' by combining calendar, location and email information to provide reports on everything from fitness performance as it relates to a wearer's work schedule, nutritional intake, and even the whether the number of meetings in a given day has an impact on the quality of sleep the night before or after.
Interestingly, while the Microsoft Band is in direct competition with industry incumbents, Microsoft has indicated that its Health platform will be available to all. At launch, the software integrates with Jawbone's UP hardware and software packages from MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper, with additional support for synchronising data to the Microsoft HealthVault platform for sharing with medical professionals - an optional opt-in service, naturally.
Microsoft Band is also designed to double as a semi-smartwatch product, using a compact screen on the device to display communications notifications from a linked smartphone or PC and provide access to the Cortana voice-assistant service on compatible Windows Phone devices. The Band is to launch in the US first priced at $199.99 - at the top end of the health-band market - with the company silent on international pricing and availability.
More details on Microsoft Band are available on the official product page
, or by watching the below demonstration video.