Microsoft working on smartwatch to move into wearable tech market

Microsoft working on smartwatch to move into wearable tech market

Microsoft looks set to move into the wearable technology market by introducing a new smartwatch, according to a patent filed by the company.

The ‘personal information system’ – as it is described in the documents filed at the US Patent & Trademark Office – can be removed from the wristband.

The device has a touch display and communications interface, which can be configured to transmit and receive data via the connectors and communicate with external computing devices.

It also includes biometric sensors to track heart rate, as well as GPS to track location and will come with a dock for a power or USB cord, which can be plugged into an external device.

According to the patent, it aims to solve the problem of devices becoming dirty while users are wearing them, as well as devices not presenting the user with information during exercise other than time and position information.

It said: “Users have been forced to connect external heartbeat sensors, for example using a chest strap, to obtain biometric feedback during exercise. The use of multiple components in this manner can be bulky and make exercise awkward. As a result, the adoption of such portable electronic devices during exercise is not as widespread as it could be.”

This ties in with a report from Fixya, which says that: “smartwatches on the whole leave much to be desired, with a plethora of problems that are all too common across the entire smartwatch category.

“From untrustworthy batteries, to troublesome speakers and unresponsive voice controls (or no voice controls), to more obvious problems like screen notification issues and a serious lack of real estate – smartwatches share a number of problems in common.”

The report adds that users view smartwatches primarily as an extension of their smartphone rather than a standalone device.

It said that smartphones act as a “notification system to check your phone – rather than being a new way for you to genuinely interact with the digital world. Not to mention, far too often even these notifications are lacking.”

These will be problems Microsoft looks to solve as it moves into the wearable computing market, which will more than triple in sales over the next year, according to an IDC study,

Shipment volumes will exceed 19 million units in 2014 and the global market will rise to 111.9 million units in 2018, a growth rate of 78.4%.

Microsoft has already started to make noise in the market, as it acquired patents for augmented reality intellectual property worth up to US$150 million from Osterhout Design Group in March.

The San Francisco-based company develops wearable technology accessories, such as head-mounted technology for industry and the military (not, currently, consumers), with the US government being its biggest customer.

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