Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 30, 2014

Microsoft Health Makes a Play for Entire Health Spectrum

When most of us think of health, one of the first things that's commonly thought of is what happens when we get sick. But there's a whole range of topics in the sphere of health, ranging from illness to injury to preventative measures and beyond. Microsoft, meanwhile, is looking to get in on health in a very big way with the announcement of a new platform called, simply enough, Microsoft Health. Microsoft Health looks to bring in the full array of devices, services, and similar tools that will provide the fullest insight into health and how to respond to the issues therein.

Microsoft Health, as a platform, is reportedly comprised of several separate segments, including the Microsoft Health app, which will oversee much of the operation and serve as a kind of hub for the variety of tools related to Microsoft Health. Said tools will gather the data required to make the necessary conclusions and adjustments that are all a part of the practice of improving health. The Microsoft Health app itself, meanwhile, will offer up a complete cloud service to store the necessary information and allow for said information to be better processed by the tools on hand. The app will be available for, of course, Windows Phone, but also for iOS and Android devices, making this a highly accessible breed of health service.

Additionally, the company is also poised to bring out Microsoft Band, a piece of wearable technology geared toward gathering the data that will go into Microsoft Health. Among the information Microsoft Band is set to gather is levels of activity, heart rate, information about sleep and several other useful pieces. The Band gathers information over time, and sends it on to Microsoft Health, where useful conclusions can be made about how a user's sleep looks—whether it's restful or restless sleep, and how much of either there is on hand—time to recover based on the workout's overall intensity, calories burned during certain exercises and so on.  It packs in fully 10 separate sensor modules as well to help gather that data and process it accordingly.

Plus, the platform can accept apps from outside developers as well, and even boasts a complete line of application programming interfaces (APIs), and the system works with several other bands as well, from Jawbone's UP to RunKeeper. Microsoft Band, however, will sell for $199, and even offer some support for Cortana operations.

It's interesting to see Microsoft get this deep into fitness tracking all at once like this, especially given the nature of the industry as a whole. There is a huge variety of fitness tracking systems out there, and users have a choice among many. What's more, there's even some danger that devices that focus on fitness tracking will be ultimately rendered obsolete by smartwatches that can do everything a fitness tracker does and substantially more besides. So why is Microsoft stepping in on what may be a dying industry? Is it looking to get something else started, and this is its foot in the door? Is it unaware of the growth of smartwatches? Or is something else as yet unconsidered afoot here, ready to provide new details later?

Only time will tell just what the end result is, and until then, the Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health will be ready to work together, offering up a lot more information about health and how to improve same.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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