Microsoft Band fitness tracker with Cortana debuts alongside Microsoft Health service: Here's the deal (VIDEO)

30 October 2014, 9:00 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps
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The rumored Microsoft Band is a rumor no more, as the company's new fitness gadget just made its official debut along with the Microsoft Health service.

As wearable technology is rapidly picking up steam and smartwatches and smart bands are increasingly gaining momentum, Microsoft is joining the race with its own wearable gadget, which is much more than just a fitness tracker.

The Microsoft Band runs Windows 8.1, complete with the company's much-touted Cortana digital assistant, and has a new Microsoft Health cloud-based service to back it up. Here's the deal:

Microsoft's new wearable is a 10-sensor fitness tracker that promises to offer two days of battery life on a single charge, thanks to two 100 mAh lithium-ion batteries, and it already went on sale for $199.99 on the Microsoft Store.

The Microsoft Band comes with heart-rate monitor, a UV sensor to track the user's sun exposure, a galvanic skin response sensor for measuring stress levels, build-in GPS, and more. The gadget is made of a "thermal plastic elastometer" and comes with a 1.4-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 320 x 106 pixels.

"Microsoft Band, the first device powered by Microsoft Health, helps you achieve your wellness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn, and sleep quality. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts - right on your wrist," reads the product description.

The new Microsoft Health service, meanwhile, aims to track and analyze health data globally, and the company plans to allow consumers to use the Health app with other personal trackers as well, not just the Microsoft Band.

Microsoft Health has a great bonus with its cross-platform functionality, as works with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. It's worth pointing out, however, that the microphone found on the Microsoft Band allows users to give voice commands to Cortana, but only when the gadget is paired with a Windows Phone device.

"Available on Windows Phone, iOS and Android, Microsoft Health's open cloud platform stores, organizes and learns from your fitness information in order to give specific prompts to improve your fitness," Microsoft explained in a press release.

"Imagine you've set the goal that you want to get fit and lose weight as part of your exercise routine. Based on your burn rate and exercise over one week, we will soon be able to auto-suggest a customized workout plan for you. As you follow that plan - or if you don't follow the plan - our technology will continue to adjust to give you the best outward-looking plan, like a real coach would do," adds Zulfi Alam, GM of Personal Devices at Microsoft.

The Microsoft Band will also support a slew of smartwatch-like functionality such as social media notifications, email messages, calendar reminders, phone calls, weather information, and others such.

Users will be able to scroll through tiles to see their personal stats, as well as various apps. A Starbucks app, for instance, will display a bar code to allow users to buy drinks without taking their phone out of the pocket. Moreover, Microsoft has also teamed up with Jawbone, MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, Gold's Gym, and MapMyFitness.

You can learn more about the Microsoft Health service from the company's blog at this link, while the Microsoft Band fitness tracker is available for purchase from the company's online store here. To see the new gadget in action, check out the video below.

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