How Microsoft Could Be a Mobile Health Game Changer

Nancy Crotti

November 3, 2014

3 Min Read
How Microsoft Could Be a Mobile Health Game Changer

Microsoft has joined the wearable health-monitoring fray with its new "Microsoft Band," a wrist-worn device that will allow users to monitor their fitness and exercise regimens.

The device's sensors monitor pulse rate, measure calorie burn and track sleep quality, the company said in a blog post.

The band contains guided workouts curated by Gold's Gym, as well as by Shape, Men's Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness magazines. The $199 device will also notify wearers of incoming calls, emails, text messages and social media updates as well as access to Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's Siri, the company said.

Microsoft simultaneously announced a new platform called Microsoft Health, which includes a cloud service to combine health and fitness data from different health and fitness devices and services in a single, secure location, the company said. Consumers can access Microsoft Health from the eponymous app, which has launched on Android, iOS and Windows phones.

Microsoft is following Apple, Google and smaller companies into the health-measuring wearable device market. That's despite reports that consumers sometimes forget to wear their wristband or, in the case of Fitbit, clip it to their clothing before heading out the door or unclip it before tossing the clothing into the laundry.

Indeed, one of Microsoft's partners in Microsoft Band, Jawbone UP, has already ditched its wristband device in favor of an app.

Microsoft Health is also trailing Samsung's health-tracking smartwatch known as the Simband,and Apple's HealthKit health-tracking app, which it installed on iPhones whose owners upgraded to the recently released iOS8. Apple nearly simultaneously pulled all the associated apps from the Apple store, to consumers' dismay. Earlier this year, Google introduced Google Fit, a similar platform that grants software developers access to health data.

Forbes is speculating that Seattle-based Amazon could be mulling a similar play soon. Supporting that rumor is the fact that Amazon recently met with FDA officials. While details of the meeting are sparse, more telling is Amazon's recent hire of Babak Parviz, who helped start Google's smart contact lens program.

While not strictly a health-related device, Google Glass has already been used by a surgeon in the midst of performing a procedure. (Check out a recent Qmed slideshow on all the things Google is doing in the healthcare space.)

Even though Microsoft just introduced its wearable health-tracker, it is already getting reviews. Peter Bright, technology editor at arstechnica.com, wrotethat he was amazed that the band was immediately available, but found it kind of clunky and difficult to use.

New York Times blogger wrotethat it is "pretty good" and "might be the most flexible wearable device on the market" in terms of the smartphone notifications it includes.

Techcrunch.com offers a demonstration and review here.

There are plenty of design challenges along the way in making mobile medical devices. Here are five of the most prominent.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

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About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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