Microsoft's Heart Rate-Reading, Stress-Sensing Fitness Band is Official

By Sean Hollister on at

After a series of leaks yesterday, the Microsoft Band, a 10-sensor fitness tracker which should last two days on a charge, is officially official and goes on sale today.

Priced $200 in the States – which equates to £125, though no UK-specific price has been detailed – it packs in the optical heart-rate monitor seen in the picture above next to a UV sensor to keep track of your sun exposure, a galvanic skin response sensor to measure stress, and built-in GPS.

The 18.5-millimetre band's made of a "thermal plastic elastomer", which means it's probably nice, soft, and stretchy. It's got a fairly tiny 1.4-inch touchscreen at just 320 x 106 resolution, which is powered by two 100mAh lithium-ion batteries.

There's certainly a lot stuffed in there:

The band is just one part of a new Microsoft Health initative to track and analyse the world's health data, and is also just one way to collect it: Microsoft plans to let people use the Health app with other personal trackers, a la Apple and Google. Much like Basis and Jawbone, which sell bands of their own, Microsoft wants to turn that data into insights that people can actually use. Would you like to know whether eating breakfast helps you run faster? That's literally one of Microsoft's examples.

Microsoft is making this specific device relatively platform agnostic, so you can use the band with iOS and Android as well as Windows Phone, but one key feature is being held back: the band has a microphone to issue voice commands to Cortana, but those will only work if you pair the band to a Windows Phone device.

In addition to being a fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band will support all kinds of smartwatch-style notifications while you wear it, including email messages, calendar reminders, phone calls, Twitter and Facebook alerts, weather and stock information. You can scroll through tiles that show your personal stats, as well as a few different apps — including a Starbucks one that displays a scannable barcode so you can buy drinks without your phone handy. Microsoft's also partnered with Gold's Gym, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, and (yes) Jawbone.

Here's a full list of what it can do:

You can find way, way more about the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health at those links you just noticed that I embedded into this sentence. And this one. And this one too.

Also, there's this video.