Microsoft promotes its Band smartwatch platform with plans to license its technology

November 4th, 2014 | Edited by | hardware


Microsoft plans to license its Microsoft Band smartwatch technology to other manufacturers, with an emphasis on the sensors powering them, a company representative said Friday.
Whether Microsoft plans to put in place a formal program, such as it has for Windows Phone, remains unclear. The Band does not run an operating system per se, but on Microsoft’s wearable firmware, optimized for low-power micro devices, the spokesman said in an email.
“Yes on licensing the technology. Particularly the sensors, “ he said.
Right now, the sensors are one of the selling points behind Microsoft’s $199 Band, which unexpectedly launched Wednesday night. Inside the smartwatch/fitness band are ten sensors, including a GPS, accelerometer, microphone, and gyroscope, plus sensors to measure skin capacitance, ultraviolet light, skin temperature, and continuous heart rate. The Band, Microsoft says, not only provides assistance during your workday, with calendar reminders, Twitter updates, the Cortana digital assistant, and the like, but also measures your sleep and exercise routine.


The intelligence that Cortana and a separate Intelligence Engine built into the Band might not make it to other manufacturers. But the Microsoft spokesman said that other smartwatch makers may be able to license the technology, so that the sensor hardware and algorithms that monitor them could appear elsewhere. Whether Microsoft will set up a formal branding initiative—a “Powered by Band” tagline, for example—isn’t known. The spokesman said Microsoft will talk more about what it plans to do with Band in the future.

Although it’s hard to say how many Bands Microsoft readied before launch, the company’s Web site now says it is sold out. Social media accounts owned by Microsoft employees showed long lines at Microsoft stores on Thursday, with customers presumably buying Band. And Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, tweeted Friday that the company was “looking to scale [Band] to more countries.” So far, the Band is being sold only in the United States.

Why this matters: One easy way to establish a platform is to get the supporting technology into as many hands as possible. At this point, it appears Band isn’t quite equivalent to Windows Phone—in fact, until the first in-depth reviews are in, it’s difficult to say how successful Band will be. But Microsoft’s push to make Band work with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone already shows the company is thinking big.


Achieving the Perfect Selfie

November 1st, 2014 | Edited by | hardware


Anyone who’s tried to take a decent photo with an iPhone knows the drill: tap the app and wait longer than usual for it to open, fiddle around with the settings to make sure the flash is activated, awkwardly hold the phone (along with your breath) and finally, repeatedly tap the screen to take the shot. If luck is on your side, you’ll have a photo that doesn’t look like a typical Bigfoot sighting.


The Snappgrip is a device that aims to take all that fuss out of shooting iPhone pics. It’s a phone case that gives users an added benefit of physical buttons so there’s no need to struggle with the on-screen functions. Taking a photo, shooting video, zooming, toggling the flash and switching between landscape and portrait modes are all handled by the Snappgrip.
The button layout on the Snappgrip is just like any other camera. There’s a dial to switch modes and a shutter button for zooming and taking shots. The device is super light and curved perfectly for comfort. What’s even cooler is that the button and dial section detaches, leaving you with a phone case. That’s a sure plus for those who hate having to take their phone out of the case just to put on an accessory.
The Snappgrip is available now at the website for $70. You also get a tripod mount (for the truly obsessed iPhone photographer), wrist strap, charging cable and carrying case (that you’d probably never use anyway). As far as colors, your choice is only between the obligatory black or white, but who cares? It makes creating the next Instagram buzz a lot easier.


Page 3 of 3123