Apple hasn’t even formally entered the wearables space with the announcement of that much talked about iWatch device, but already reports are confirming that Microsoft the Surface Smartwatch, an iWatch rival of its very own.
A new report from GearLive posted this past Sunday discusses a Microsoft-made smartwatch at length. In it, the outlet confirms that a member of its staff actually saw someone wearing a Surface Smartwatch in New York a few months ago. Having gotten a chance to interact with the allegedly Surface Smartwatch, the writer indicates that it will include Bluetooth 4.0 so that it can communicate with other devices wireless without draining their battery and other extras.
As for looks, the report says that the Surface Watch has an “elongated form factor” and looks closer to the Fitbit One or the Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit than it does to other smartwatches like Motorola’s circular MotoX. Apparently the device the writer saw had a flat screen instead of a curved display that was bent to the contour of the wearer’s arms.
As for the actual purpose of the Surface Smartwatch, the report remains pretty murky on that. It insists that the device it saw in New York included a heart rate monitor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a GPS. The report also says that Microsoft is planning to include agalvanic skin sensor in the Surface Smartwatch’s wrist bad. Galvanic skin sensors are designed to measure the amount of electricity running through the skin in certain situations. It also makes references to the Surface Smartwatch also being compatible with Microsoft’s Xbox One console.
Admittedly, GearLive doesn’t have a consistent track record with revealing Microsoft hardware. In fact, the outlet doesn’t really have a proven track record with leaks concerning products from any companies. That being said, it does have a few notable leaks under its belt. To its credit, it was among the first to get hands-on time with a previous Microsoft hardware project: the Zune 30.
This report does mesh with what’s been coming from other outlets lately. A report towards the end of May indicated that Microsoft was using the team that created the Kinect sensor to build a smartwatch. Allegedly, this device has bettery life of two days, and at the time sources also alleged that Microsoft was working to make sure that its smartwatch would work on the iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. A reference to that universal compatibility is also in the GearLive report.
It does make sense that Microsoft would be working on new device types. Today, the company is behind in smartphones and tablets, getting a head start in smartwatches would theoretically allow Microsoft to quickly innovate in a hardware market not already dominated by a major player for once.
On the other hand, Microsoft only recently ended its first experiment in smartwatches. It just shut down the Spotwatch program. Spot broadcasted news and headlines directly to users through FM radio signals. It never caught on with consumers.
It’s worth noting that while Apple isn’t yet competing in the wearable computing space, there are other major players for both Microsoft and users to consider.
Google announced Android Wear, a customized version of its Android operating system for smartwatches and other wearables early this year. We already know of one device that’s coming with Android Wear aboard, the Moto360 smartwatch being made by Motorola. Additionally, Samsung has been in the wearable computing space since last year. In that time it’s already released second generation smartwatches. The Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches aren’t necessarily amazing, but they are available on store shelves today for those who want them.