Microsoft is about to jump headlong into the battle for your wrist. According to reports, the Windows maker is working on a new smartwatch complete with an always-on heart rate monitor. What’s more, the watch, which could offer cross-platform support, may be available as soon as this summer.
According to Forbes, the watch, which is currently in development will resemble Samsung’s Gear Fit, and feature a color touchscreen display. The screen, however, is said to be located on the inside of a user’s wrist in order to keep notifications more private.
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If that’s the case, it could put the display at a greater risk of being scratched. Previous reports, though, pointed to Microsoft using a material that’s nearly four times stronger than glass called, Oxynitried Aluminum, for the watch’s display
The smartwatch’s heart rate monitor, the report indicates, is being developed with support from optical engineers from Microsoft’s Kinect team. An always-on heart rate monitor would be a step up from current generation fitness wearables that need to have their monitors activated before they can take a reading. With more data being collected, it’s possible that Microsoft’s smartwatch could provide users with a more accurate reading of their overall heart rate and fitness stats.
Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans told Forbes that Redmond’s smartwatch will also provide support for all major mobile operating systems including Android, iOS and, naturally, Windows Phone. That would give Microsoft’s watch a distinct advantage over Samsung’s smartwatch offerings, the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit, which are only compatible with Samsung devices. That said, Samsung is also rumored to be working on a smartwatch that will double as a standalone phone, which could give it a boost over its competitors.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumors of a Microsoft smartwatch. Last year, it was reported that Microsoft was speaking with Asian suppliers to ship components for a touch-enabled wearable device. That device was said to feature a 1.5-inch touch screen display and two removable bands.
The wearable market is one of the hottest in tech, with shipping volumes expected to triple in 2014, reaching 19.2 million units, according to IDC, an industry research group. Other analysts are more bullish on market growth, with ABI Research indicating that as many as 164 million units could ship in 2015 alone