In an age where watches have become more of an accessory than a utility/necessity, do we see the dawn of a new era where tech giants are locking horns over transforming them into something more than just a humble time-telling machine?
The latest buzz that is getting tech enthusiasts all excited comes from the stables of Microsoft. Reports are that the tech giant has been working at creating a wearable device on the lines of a smartwatch. While players like Samsung, Google have already launched their products in this space, tech trackers across the world are already talking about Microsoft’s device’s unique functions and design features. However, there has been no formal communication from the company regarding any of this yet.
Updates about the Microsoft device talk about it sporting as many as upto 11 sensors that will enable it to double up as a fitness tracker, with fitness sensors for heart rate, amount of calories burnt and more. If reports are to be believed, Microsoft may also club its fitness focused apps Bing Health & Fitness and Health Vault as preloaded apps with this device. These features have also led some industry experts to liken the yet to be launched device to existing devices like Fitbit and Samsung Gear Fit. However, unlike a Gear Fit which requires the wearer to turn on its heart-rate monitor, Microsoft’s device will continuously monitor the heart-rate all day and night. There are reports that the device may contain chips from Texas Instruments and Atmel.
The device is reported to be scoring on the design front, sporting a very thin design and a full colour screen. A smart and thoughtful design detail that Microsoft has included is that the screen of this wearable faces the inside of a wearer’s wrist (a cool detail!). This small yet important design feature allows discreet checking of notifications, unlike other similar products such as the Samsung Gear.
While the design and features are heart winners, what clearly steals the show is the rumor about Microsoft Wearable having an open platform – which basically means it will be able to run on all devices, be it Windows, Android or iOS. If used strategically, this can well be a selling point with users often facing compatibility issues in this age of multiple device usage.
Microsoft’s wrist wearable is reported to clash with a new device from Apple, the iWatch, which is pegged to be the first big launch from Apple since the launch of the iPad. Although Apple’s iWatch will, ofcourse, only be compatible with other iOS devices. Also in the race to launch smartwatches is Google, which showcased its Android Wear Watches and software at the I/O Developer Conference.
While early reports talked of a May 2014 launch, the device is now slated to hit the market in the fourth quarter of 2014 (mostly October), around the same time as Apple’s iWatch.
With so many players putting their weights behind smartwatches, is this an attempt to revive a category which suffered demise with the launch of mobile phones? Or is this a move to create a new category altogether? A device that can be an extension of the smartphones and double up as health and fitness companions for customers may just be the future.