Microsoft Unveils New Health Platform and Microsoft Band Product
Microsoft this week announced the creation of a new cloud-enabled health platform to support apps and devices.
Microsoft Health is a software platform that combines user data. It's capable of recording one's heart rate from exercise and storing it in "a secure location" via the cloud, according to Microsoft's announcement. The platform contains algorithms for physiologic sensors as well as various calculations, such as reporting the intensity of a workout or the restfulness of one's sleep cycle.
Apps leveraging the Microsoft Health platform are available this week for consumers using Android, iOS or Windows Phone devices, Microsoft announced.
In addition, the company launched a new Microsoft Band product today. Microsoft Band is a watch-like device with 10 sensors that will track a person's heart rate, calories burned and sleep quality. It includes the ability to tap workout programs from "Gold's Gym, Shape, Men's Fitness and Muscle & Fitness." Microsoft Band also connects with smartphones, as well as Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant program. It delivers alerts about arriving calls, texts or e-mails, as well as workout information. The idea is that users might wear Microsoft Band 24 hours a day, and not just during workouts.
Currently, Microsoft Band is just available in limited quantities in the U.S. market, as well as at MicrosoftStore.com, priced at $199.
The Microsoft Health platform has room for partnering companies. It currently works with solutions from "UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper," according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft is licensing its 10 sensor modules as part of the platform. It also provides its app, APIs and cloud storage service to partners, as well as access to Microsoft Health algorithms and machine learning via the platform's Intelligence Engine.
In the near future, Microsoft conceives of connecting its Health platform with its HealthVault solution, which is software that's used to share medical information with health service providers. The platform is also conceived as becoming "smarter" over time via the Intelligence Engine, such that it may be able to suggest performance improvements for individuals.
Microsoft also has notions of connecting Health platform data with Microsoft Office e-mail and calendar solutions, as well as integrating location-based information into the service, according to a Microsoft-published article on the topic. The article even suggests that Microsoft's platform will be capable of recording a person's exhilaration and stress levels.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.