We heard yesterday about Intel making a push into the wearable market with a partner produced smart shirt and now it looks like Microsoft is going to be making its own wearable too. It’s not being quite as imaginative though, as Microsoft’s first product will be a smartwatch.
The watch is said to incorporate a lot of features from fitness gadgets, as well as other smartwatches from competitors. It’ll constantly measure the user’s heart rate using sensors built using technology form Microsoft’s Kinect developments. It’ll also have a comparable battery life to the recently released Samsung Gear Fit, lasting around two days.
While Kinect technology might not seem like the best fit for a smartwatch, what the developers behind that cost inflating 3D camera have done is develope some impressive sensors, especially when it comes to infrared. This could make for some unique input options through gestures, which could seriously increase the functions of the smartwatch, a platform that currently lacks a lot of interaction.
There’s also a lot of potential for the smartwatch to interact with the Xbox One and Kinect cameras to offer ever more detailed biometric and motion controls on the console. While dance games are perhaps the only platform the reliably can use the Kinect for gameplay without it being a gimmick, adding extra motion tracking through a wrist band as well as heart rate and other sensors, could make for an interesting gameplay device in its own right.
However where Microsoft may stand with a chance of differentiating itself from competitors, is that it’s planning to offer compatibility with Android, iOS and Windows phones, really opening up the market to a much larger audience.
As Forbes points out, this could very well be the tell tale sign of Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, who took over from Steve Ballmer this February. The first product he unveiled as head of the company, was a Microsoft Office suit that for the first time worked on both Windows PCs and Apple iPads. This cross platform support is something Microsoft has never dabbled in before. Going the same route with its smartwatch would be a good plan, especially considering the relatively low uptake of Windows phone devices compared to its competitors.
While Microsoft doesn’t have the strongest history when it comes to hardware production, its Xbox division has been a big success story, so perhaps if it linked that in somehow it could make a new profitable venture. Of course it could all go the way of the Zune player, so Microsoft is no doubt banking on it taking a decidedly different turn that that ill-fated product.
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