Six years after Microsoft discontinued its SPOT smart device platform and the resulting MSN Direct-backed Smart Watches, the erstwhile software giant is back with a patent for a new smart watch design. As you might expect of a more modern device, the new Microsoft smart watch design features fitness tracking, media playing and phone integration, and is most likely being developed by the firm's Devices division, which is now led by ex-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.
This revelation comes courtesy of the US Patent & Trademark Office, which published Microsoft's October 2012 patent application for a "wearable information system" this week.
"The system may have a housing including a top surface defined at least partially by a display, a bottom surface configured with a central region in which an optical sensor, electrical connector, and data connector are positioned, the housing enclosing an internal volume in which a processor is provided, the top surface and bottom surface being coupled by a perimeter side edge extending therebetween, and a mounting structure formed at least partially around the perimeter side edge of the housing," the application densely notes.
"The system may further include a frame, which may be connected to a band, the frame surrounding a void and configured to receive the mounting structure, the frame and mounting structure being releasably securable via a tongue and groove connection. The system may further comprise a dock to which the information device may be connected," the appliation further noted.
In case that's not utterly clear, here's a supplied image of the device:
Among the features of this proposed smart watch are:
Dock connectivity. The underside of the watch will include an "electrical connector and dock-side data connector in a central region of the mounting well of the dock" that is connected magnetically.
Removable face. The body (non-strap part) of the watch can be removed by pressing down on it; that portion can be docked or connected to other devices as well.
Heartbeat monitor. Also on the underside of the device is an optical sensor, which includes "a light emitter and at least one light sensor, and wherein the light emitter is configured to emit a light into the skin of a user, and the light sensor is configured to measure a biometric parameter of a user, when the device is worn by the user." In other words, a heartbeat monitor like that included on the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone.
Touchscreen. The watch's touchscreen is its primary user interface.
Beyond this, we have rumors, including that the watch could run some version of Windows 8 and be sold under the Surface brand. All of this is, of course, a big if: It's not entirely clear that Microsoft intends to sell this product at all. (And no, the second device Microsoft will launch at the Surface mini event this month is not a watch. Or a phone.) If Surface has proven anything, it's that Microsoft can produce incredibly high-quality hardware, albeit as devices that few seem to want compared to the competition. And the market for wearable computing devices, like that of smartphones and tablets, is expected to heat up very quickly, and be dominated by roughly the same players.