Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US

Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'

Microsoft has joined the wearables market with “band”, a fitness-monitor-cum-smartwatch, which is accompanied by a suite of online services dubbed “Microsoft Health”.

There's more than a hint of raised middle finger directed at Cupertino in the dual announcements, as Band is on sale now for US$199 and is said to have enough power to be worn 24 hours a day.

Apple's famed watch won't see the light of day until 2015 and will need daily charging.

The combination of Health and Band delivers the set-your-goals-tick-them-off-monitor-your-progress-online affair that will sound utterly familiar to those with knowledge of Google Fit, other fitness gadgets and the Galaxy Gear.

Microsoft's Band wearable

Microsoft's Band fitness wearable

Band can measure heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality, and also display “email previews and calendar alerts”. There's also an ultraviolet light meter, so you can figure out whether you need a lot, or a little, sunscreen or head coverings before you venture outdoors, plus internal GPS that can map runs or rides without the need for a companion phone.

Everything works better if you own a Windows Phone running version 8.1 of the OS, as if that's your rig you can access the Cortana personal assistant and have her take notes or give you driving direction.

Microsoft's also playing nice with others: data captured by Band and Health can both work with third-party services. MapMyFitness, Jawbone and RunKeeper are already aboard and Microsoft promises more partners to come. Apps for iOS and Android are also available.

Where Microsoft thinks it has an edge is its ability to put Azure's analytics bits to work delivering “actionable insights for healthier living” based on data gathered by Band.

Those insights are said to include "Whether eating breakfast helps you run faster" and "If the number of meetings during the day impacts sleep quality".

Microsoft's Band wearable blueprints

Oh look: blueprints … for a whole new you if you drink the Kool Aid

Band devices can also display incoming text messages, stock alerts and other factoids you choose to pipe onto your wrist, thanks to Bluetooth.

The device comes in three sizes: small, medium and large, but online sales offer only a black-coloured model.

For now, Band is a US-only product and Microsoft isn't saying when it will reach other nations, or at what price. ®

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