Microsoft unveiled its first major wearable fitness device on Wednesday night, called “Microsoft Band.”
It also introduced a new health platform to go with its Band, appropriately called Microsoft Health.
Microsoft will start selling its new Band on Thursday through the company’s physical and online stores, for $US199. It will work with all the major mobile ecosystems, including iOS, Android, and yes, even Windows Phone.
According to Re/code’s Ina Fried, the Microsoft Band has a strong emphasis on fitness, and it’s designed to be worn by its user all day to track both sleeping and exercise patterns. The Band comes with built-in GPS and 10 sensors that can track things like heart rate, but it also has a unique UV sensor to measure sun exposure, and a “galvanic skin response measurement” to purportedly help identify stress.
Microsoft Band will be incorporated into a new fitness-tracking service by Microsoft called Microsoft Health, which can analyse data from the Band — and other devices like smartphones and even rival fitness bands — in the cloud.
The companion application that delivers this data analysis through the user will be available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. As a bonus for Windows Phone users, the Band will also support Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant.
As Fried notes, Microsoft also previously attempted a digital health service called HealthVault in 2007. Microsoft actually claims its new Microsoft Health service can plug into HealthVault, even though the latter platform is more focused on medical records as opposed to personal fitness metrics.
Microsoft says it is launching Band with several partners in tow, including Starbucks, which will let Band owners pay for coffee with only a “gift card barcode.” It will also work with MyMapFitness and RunKeeper, two popular fitness tracking apps, and Jawbone’s own line of fitness devices.
You can read more about Microsoft’s new health initiative on its blog.
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