Microsoft gets into the fitness game with Microsoft Band and Health

30 Oct 2014

Not wanting to miss out on the lucrative wearables market, Microsoft has formally announced its Microsoft Band fitness wearable with Microsoft Health, but it is so far only available in the US.

The first rumours that Microsoft were working on the smartband appeared back in July this year and have seemingly proved true with regard to the amount of different measurement devices for bodily functions.

Available across Windows Phone, iOS and Android, the Band features a 24-hour heart-rate monitor that tracks the amount of calories the user is burning but also measures how effective their sleep is. Meanwhile, GPS allows tracking of routes and distance travelled with a particularly unique feature being its UV monitor, allowing it to determine what factor sunscreen you might need.

Image via Microsoft.

The Band has been designed to work in tandem with Microsoft’s newly announced Microsoft Health, which has been established to perform a similar function to Apple’s Healthkit allowing a user amalgamate all their health data into one place to build a bigger picture of the state of their overall health.

All this information will be stored in Microsoft’s HealthVault which has been available for use since 2007, but will only now become more usable to the general public with the release of the Band.

Regular smartband features

Aside from fitness tracking, the Band also has all the features that smartband and smartwatch users would have become familiar with based off current available models including the ability to read SMS messages, social media and email, and yet, still not being able to respond to these messages.

Some unique features for the Microsoft Band include the ability to access the company’s voice activation system Cortana, that is, if you are using a Windows Phone with the 8.1 OS.

The company have also signed a deal with the coffee shop chain Starbucks to allow payment through the Band.

Image via Microsoft

For most consumers of smart wearables, the actual battery life is considered rather important and in the Band’s case, shows similarity with other devices with its 100mAh battery lasting 48 hours in normal use with a charge time of 1.5 hours.

The Band’s screen resolution appears to be a reasonably high for a smartband coming in at 320 x 106p on a 1.4in display.

In comparison, the Sony SmartWatch 2 that we reviewed last August had a resolution of 220x176p.

However, all this is rather mute to the wider international market as currently the Band is only available in the US and no announcement has been made on when we should be seeing it in Irish stores.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic