It seems this is the year wearables finally take flight – Apple has one, Samsung has a bunch, LG has a couple, Pebble has two, Motorola has one, and the list goes on and on. Microsoft has given us a jolt this evening with the unexpected announcement of a new fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band, along with a wellness monitoring service dubbed Microsoft Health.
The device has ten sensors to measure things such as heart rate and the ultraviolet index, along with stress levels and more. It can also last 48 hours with just one charge. Both of these things haven’t quite been matched by competitors like Android Wear, but this device is clearly more fitness-oriented than the former. The watch also stars Cortana, and will bring you your notifications from a connected smartphone.
Microsoft Health is the big story here, the service that keeps the Band going. Microsoft is not just going proprietary with this, and is looking to work with companies to develop for Health. It already has RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Jawbone UP, and MyFitnessPal listed as partners, and is encouraging other companies to step up and join in.
The watch works with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone with the use of a companion app (though it has a built-in GPS you can use when working out without your phone), and will be available online and in stores on Thursday in the United States for $200. Microsoft notes that only a limited number of Bands will be available for purchase immediately.
This is a pretty big leap forward for the fitness tracker industry, so we’d love to hear your thoughts. Fill us in on your take in the comments section below.