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Microsoft Band and Health officially revealed as company's first wearable

Tom Morgan
30 Oct 2014
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Microsoft's long-rumoured entry into the wearables market was confirmed this morning, with the all-platform Microsoft Band

Microsoft has officially revealed its first attempt at a fitness wearable. The Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health platform are designed to work across operating systems and play nicely with Apple, Android and Windows smartphones, making it one of the first truly universal fitness gadgets.

The Bluetooth device is very much a fitness band, rather than a smartwatch, although it will display text and incoming call alerts on its 1.4in, 320×106 resolution touchscreen. It will launch in three sizes, so should be able to fit most wrists, and will pair with any Bluetooth LE-compatible device running Windows Phone 8.1 or newer, iOS 7.1 and above on an iPhone 4s or newer, or Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or newer.

On the surface, Microsoft Band might not seem all that different from other fitness bands from the likes of Fitbit, Garmin and Polar, but the company has actually managed to squeeze a lot more sensors into the wearable. As well as a 3-axis accelerometer with gyroscope for tracking movement, GPS for standalone location tracking without a paired smartphone and an optical heart rate sensor, Band also measures skin temperature, galvanic skin response (most likely to measure sweating and exertion), ambient light and UV light. It also has a microphone, so you can use it with Cortana on Windows Phone.

Two 100mAh batteries should let the Band last for up to 48 hours of 'normal use', according to Microsoft, although GPS will reportedly shorten that lifespan. It should take around one and a half hours to fully charge using the bundled magnetic USB charger.

The announcement didn't exactly go to plan; Microsoft Health was leaked ahead of schedule when it appeared on the Mac App store a few hours early. Health is the other half of the launch, which as you might expect can track the number of steps you take each day, measure your sleeping patterns and keep a record of your exercise routine, but Microsoft also plans to use that information to give users 'insights' into how much recovery time they need after a workout or what to do to burn the most calories.

Microsoft Band will go on sale in the US later today. There's currently no word on whether it will be launching in other territories, but American customers will be able to pick one up for $199.

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