Smartwatches and other wearable devices are allowing consumers to track their movements and activities even more precisely than they can with smartphones. As such, numerous apps, devices, and programs are being developed to help individuals better manage their health and exercise — like Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health, introduced by the Redmond company this week.
The Band is a wrist-worn device that keeps tabs on your heart rate, daily exercise stats, and sleeping patterns, among other expected fitness tracking capabilities. It’s more than that, though: According to Microsoft’s announcement, the Band will also include a built-in GPS, UV sensor, stress monitor, and a fair amount of smartwatch-style notifications for things like text messages, emails, and social media alerts. It’ll even support a handful of apps, ranging from MapMyFitness to a Starbucks app that lets you pay for drinks with a scannable barcode.
All of this comes in an 18.5-millimeter plastic band that comes in three separate sizes and includes a relatively small 1.4-inch, 320 x 106 touchscreen. Two 100 mAh batteries are built in along with that.
The device is one piece of Microsoft’s cloud-based Health initiative, which allows consumers to obtain what Microsoft calls “actionable insights” based on data gathered from health- and fitness-related apps stored on their phones and other devices (such as the Band). This means that — without any need for a phone — you could, say, use GPS to track the distance and speed of your daily run, then transmit that data to your Health account in the cloud, which will then match it up with other data and provide you with analysis.
You can try these features out immediately: The Band is on sale at Microsoft stores and its official website today, while the Health app, crucially, works in conjunction with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices. The wearable is priced at $200, less than much of Apple and Google’s offerings, though this is much more of a hybrid device than something like the Apple Watch or LG G Watch R. In all, though, this may be the ideal smartwatch for people who don’t want a standard smartwatch.