Microsoft is reportedly building a smartwatch that will pair up with all major smartphone systems.
According to Forbes, the watch — which could be on sale in the next few months — will sync with handsets running not just Microsoft’s own Windows Phone, but also those running on Android and iOS.
To date most models of smartwatches, which display information and alerts from a connected phone and share its Internet connection, only work with Android devices and in some cases only specific handsets. While some details of Apple’s own in-development smartwatch remain secret, there’s no expectation it will work with non-Apple devices.
Forbes’s Parmy Olson, who first reported the Microsoft news, pointed to the cross-platform feature as being the work of Satya Nadella (pictured), who succeeded Steve Ballmer as CEO earlier this year. He’s previously spoken of the importance of Microsoft getting onto as many devices as possible and has already helped bring Office to the iPad.
Among other details in Olson’s report are that the watch’s touchscreen will be on the inside of the wrist (possibly for privacy reasons). Having the display on the inside could increase the risks of the screen being scratched. Previous reports have suggested the display may not be cased in glass but rather in aluminum oxynitride, which is already marketed commercially as ALON and has been considered for use as a form of transparent armor.
It’s also said that the device will have a two-day battery life, and that it will include a heart-rate monitor which is permanently active.
That could make it suitable for medical and health applications that need to track changes over the day, rather then being restricted to specific activities such as tracking heart rate during exercise. (Olson notes one potential downside of such a feature is that it could invite Food and Drug Administration regulation as a medical device.)
The heart rate monitor has been developed with the help of Microsoft’s Kinect engineers. One theory is that it will use visual cues such as pulsing veins to refine the measurement, rather than relying solely on sound like some other smartwatches.