What will Microsoft’s smart watch add to wearables sector?

Microsoft is throwing its wrist into the $2.5 billion smart watch market with a smart watch expected to be launched in the next few weeks, according to a report by Forbes. But what will distinguish the company’s approach in an area that is rapidly moving beyond measuring steps to measuring vital signs and sleep for […]

Microsoft is throwing its wrist into the $2.5 billion smart watch market with a smart watch expected to be launched in the next few weeks, according to a report by Forbes. But what will distinguish the company’s approach in an area that is rapidly moving beyond measuring steps to measuring vital signs and sleep for quantified selfers and the potential for specialized clinical applications?

The Forbes story said the smartwatch will initially be used to passively track heart rate and “work across several mobile platforms. But maybe the most interesting innovation is its battery life, which  is supposed to last more than two days. Now that would put it at a huge advantage over its smartwatch rivals which struggle to maintain a charge for more than one day.

How Microsoft might advance the smart watch with enterprise partners raises questions on whether machine learning through its Microsoft Research division will come into play. It might choose to use that technology as part of a service to employer wellness plans to encourage employees to make smarter choices about their health, based on each user’s needs and preferences.

Microsoft’s move would follow Apple’s iWatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear S.

Smartwatch Group, led by Managing Partner Pascal Kroenig, estimates that although health and fitness smart watches only make up 20 percent of smart watches produced, they account for 50 percent of smart watch sales.

The smart watch plans are a bit of a departure from another wearable Microsoft has in its workshop: a sensor laden bra that measures emotions to develop greater insight on triggers for overeating. Although it sounds a little like Mad Men meets the quantified self, the idea of using a bra is to get the sensors as close to the heart to create a more accurate EKG  reading. The idea is it would send a warning to your smartphone when you are likely to overeat. The battery seemed to be a stumbling block with this technology, though. The bras had to be recharged every three to four hours, according to Mashable. Maybe the smart watch battery development is just what it needs to make its smart bra practical.

Photo credit: Time Flies by Flickr user Alan Cleaver