Apart from a few words at its latest developer conference, Microsoft has been more or less silent on wearables so far, probably dreading comparisons to its failed Spot platform. But a patent suggests its wearable tech might be a larger part of its strategy moving forward.
The patent, which Microsoft filed in 2012 but was granted this week, is clearly for a kind of smartwatch. The accompanying diagrams and description reveal it will be a sensor-laden device capable of measuring a "biometric parameter" (i.e., heart rate). The illustration shows the watch displaying a simple interface for a generic fitness app that measures distance traveled.
As shown, the band is separate from the "computing device," which can be easily removed, similar in concept to the Sony Core life-logging gadget from CES, which was essentially a small sensor device that could be part of a wristband, brooch or something else.
However, Sony's device was more of a tracker, whereas Microsoft's is clearly more interactive, equipped with a "touch display" and communications interface (presumably to connect with a smartphone) to transfer the data it logs.
Microsoft plans to charge the device via a dock, similar to Samsung's Galaxy Gear. The illustrations show the display rotating 90 degrees while in the dock, which also functions as a stand.
Even though it hasn't said much about wearables themselves, Microsoft recently launched an initiative called Windows on Devices, which adapts the company's software for the "Internet of Things" — getting products that normally don't run Windows (or any OS) to run Windows. The first software development kit (SDK) is due this spring.
It's definitely possible Microsoft is planning its own hardware offering to kick-start the platform, similar to what the company attempted with the Surface and Windows 8. There's no telling when a Microsoft smartwatch might debut, but given that an upcoming event will be focused on the Surface Mini, it would probably be fall at the earliest.
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Tags: Microsoft, Tech