Apple turned a lot of heads with their watch design, and Google has had a history of tepid success with their Android Wear watches, so it’s only natural that Microsoft is going to want in on a market that’s primed to explode.
According to Forbes, Microsoft is set to release their smartwatch “within weeks,” which comes as a surprise to many as there has been little in the way of rumored launch dates since patent images of the device made the rounds online earlier this year.
Microsoft’s wearable, according to Forbes, “will passively track a wearer’s heart rate and work across different mobile platforms,” and can last up to two days before needing a recharge. Compare that to most smartwatches, including Apple’s Watch, that run out of juice after less than a full day.
Hype surrounding the Microsoft smartwatch began back in May of this year when patent images of the device starting circling around the internet. Reports confirmed that Microsoft was planning a device that would track the wearer’s heart rate, among other fitness related functions, the culmination of which would encompass 11 sensors each designed to track a different aspect of the wearer’s movement and vital signs. It was even reported that Microsoft had employed members of the development team responsible for the Xbox console’s Kinect motion sensor to develop technology for the smartwatch.
The Microsoft smartwatch is also reported as a cross-platform device, having accessibility options on all major mobile operating systems, which plays well into Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s vision for the future of the company as a purveyor of software excellence. While Windows is still at the forefront of the company’s mindset, under Nadella’s leadership, it has shifted some to make way for the development of unique productivity tools available across all platforms.
This is not necessarily a bad move for Nadella as the company’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8.1, makes up as little as 3 percent of the market. This strategy also means that when Apple launches their own device in 2015, completely missing the critical holiday shopping rush, Microsoft can target their marketing of the device to a much broader range of users than Apple, whose watch is only compatible with certain versions of iOS.
Microsoft is no stranger to the smartwatch sector. In 2004, Microsoft sought after watchmakers Fossil and Swatch to produce the company’s line of SPOT watches, linking up to Microsoft’s MSN Direct network through FM signals to give the wearer updates on weather, sports scores, news stories, and more. The line of watches never took off and were declared officially dead as of 2008.
Whether the Microsoft smartwatch gathers enough momentum to block the Apple Watch from reigning supreme next year, time can only tell. At the very least, however, it’s clear Nadella is looking to take a little wind out of Apple’s sails.
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