I heard earlier this summer that Microsoft was rethinking what its first new wearable device should be. Rather than going all-in with yet another fully-featured, me-too smartwatch aimed at the masses, the company was leaning more towards a more targeted device appealing to a more limited audience.
Rumor has it that the Microsoft fitness band will work not just with Windows Phone, but also with iPhones and Android phones. That makes sense given the new Microsoft's cross-platform push.
It's the Microsoft side of the wearables equation that interests me the most, however. I'm expecting the coming fitness band to have a Windows core inside the device, given Microsoft execs' insistence that Windows 10 will run "everywhere," meaning from the smallest Internet of Things devices, to datacenter servers.
The Operating Systems Group team at Microsoft is building a common set of graphics, gaming and media consumption/creation services that will work on PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox consoles and wearables. I'd assume there will be a similar push on the development side of the house to enable developers to access a common set of tools and programming interfaces to build apps for all of these different Windows platforms (to the extent that the UI/form factor allows).
Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures
Don't forget Microsoft recently relaunched ots MSN.com portal. The revamped Health and Fitness vertical on MSN.com allows users to maintain their daily diet intake journal; track their cardio exercise; record a run with GPS coordinates (on GPS-enabled phones); track their weight and steps; analyze historical diet, exercise and other data; and store favorite foods and exercises. Microsoft's HealthVault is no longer required to sync across devices for the Health & Fitness app. But Microsoft officials said they are not planning to phase out HealthVault, which is a service where users can store their medical information.
MSN decided to use Azure DocumentDB as a core component of UDS. Health and Fitness is one of the first MSN verticals going live on Azure DocumentDB with the new MSN launch. The other MSN verticals will soon start using an updated UDS architecture layered on top of Azure DocumentDB.
I've heard from my contacts that Microsoft also has been working on what might be its second wearable. Known internally as "Project B," this sounds like it will be a gaming helmet if and when it ends up coming to market. (Patent applications by Microsoft for such a helmet date back to 2012.)
I could see Microsoft offering its rumored fitness band and gaming helmet as part of various bundles with its Xbox and/or its Windows Phones/Surface tablets. That would be a sounder strategy, to me, than simply building yet another smartwatch that offers users little they can't do today with their smartphones alone...