Microsoft Health + Microsoft Band, new insights on health and productivity


wp_ss_20141028_0004WP_20141028_003Late last evening, Microsoft announced a new platform called Microsoft Health. Microsoft Health is designed to give people a holistic picture of their health, fitness, nutrition and work life to help them live healthier and achieve more. For the health industry, Microsoft Health will unite health and fitness devices and services under a community cloud that will give people access to powerful machine learning to deliver more insight with the data they collect. Microsoft also announced something that has long been the subject of rumors on the web. It’s called the Microsoft Band. The Band is specifically designed for Microsoft Health. It is a cross-platform smart band that provides a balance of fitness and productivity benefits.

WP_20141028_010Microsoft Health includes a powerful Intelligence Engine that uses advanced algorithms and machine learning to generate unique, personalized insight for the company’s partners’ devices and services. Over time, consumers will have the choice to combine their fitness data captured with a partner device with calendar and email information from Microsoft Office as well as location based information and more.

Microsoft Health is an open platform that partners can use in many ways.  For instance, companies building imagenew devices can also license Microsoft’s ten wrist-worn sensors to gather robust data. What are those sensors? Presently, they are Heart Rate, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, GPS, Galvanic Skin Response for hydration, Ambient Temperature, Skin Temperature, Microphone, and Ambient Light/UV. At launch, Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper are the first companies to join Microsoft Health. Microsoft Health will also allow you, if you so choose, to connect your Microsoft Health data to HealthVault and share it securely with your medical provider, family or anyone else who needs to see it. We plan to have a regular cadence of Microsoft Health announcements including additional device and service partnerships, SDK availability and additional cross-platform applications and services.

OK, but what can you do right now using the Microsoft Band? The answer is quite a lot. I was fortunate to be among a select few at the company to wear and use the Microsoft Band before its general release. The Band connects seamlessly to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. Although I use a Windows Phone, the Microsoft Band is cross-platform meaning it works on iOS and Android devices too. The Band is worn much like a wristwatch and can be positioned with its colorful touch screen on the top or bottom of the wrist depending on your preference. Opposite the screen, residing in the clasp, are the sensors for such parameters as heart rate, which is continuously monitored. At launch, not all of the sensors are enabled and not all of them are set to continually monitor. None-the-less, what the Band does out of the box is impressive.

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The Microsoft Band does many of the things you would expect. It monitors and reports out information on your fitness, exercise and calories burned. It will track your route, distance, etc. I’m not a runner, but I do like to walk. I tried it  out in my neighborhood and learned that one of my favorite short walks is just about a mile in length and I burned, based on my height and weight, about 139 calories. Of more interest to me personally was learning about my sleep patterns. The Microsoft Band will monitor your motion, heart rate, and other parameters as you sleep overnight. In the morning, the device synchs with your phone where you can learn about your sleep patterns from the night before. I learned how long I slept, how fast I fell asleep, how much time I spent in light vs. restful sleep, how many times I woke up, and my average heart rate (42) during sleep.

WP_20141028_011The Microsoft Band also alerts you to incoming messages, e-mail, calls, news, and more. A gentle haptic buzz of varying lengths tells you about incoming information which is displayed on the Band’s colorful screen as it arrives. You can also speak to Cortana using the Band’s built-in microphone with her replies showing up as text on the screen. Additionally, there are a myriad of settings to control the Band’s screen color, wallpaper, information, services, and the reminders you want to receive on your device.

This is just the beginning of something that may be truly revolutionary, as we are able to continuously monitor a number of physiological parameters from sensors which by themselves are interesting but when combined together and applied against powerful machine learning in the cloud may provide insights to health and productivity not previously possible.  

The Microsoft Band is now available in limited quantities online at the Microsoft Store and starting today, in the US, at Microsoft Store retail outlets for $199.

Bill Crounse, MD                  Senior Director, Worldwide Health                   Microsoft


Comments (22)
  1. Soon-to-be-ex-WP developer says:

    Nice companion app there. Love to see Microsoft repeating the UI mistakes of Android and iOS in more and more apps. No appbar? Throw everything up under a lazy, ugly (and already out-of-fashion) hamburger button? You do realize that your WP customers don't care that the app looks like iOS or Android, don't you? It should look and act LIKE A WINDOWS PHONE app.

  2. Craig Donovan says:

    Hi Bill

    Thanks for the useful post. Any idea when it will be available outside the US (especially here in Australia)?

    Regards

    Craig Donovan

    ex-Microsoft UK Health Team

  3. hlthblog says:

    Craig,

    Please be patient. This is day one of the US release. I'm confident we'll have the information you seek as we gain more experience with our Microsoft Health platform and Band in the states regarding customer experience, demand, etc.

  4. hlthblog says:

    WP Developer,

    Thanks for your feedback. I'm sure you'll be seeing refinements as we move forward. Remember, this is day 1. This is about an intelligent cloud platform for health data and actionable insight, much more than it is about an app or a particular device. And, the fact that it is cross-platform (Windows, iOS, Android) is significant for the industry and for developers like you.

    Bill

  5. Ryan says:

    I just bought one, but can't find the app to download on my phone or surface.  Does anyone know where to download it from?

  6. hlthblog says:

    Ryan,

    Make sure your phone has all the latest updates. If you don't see the app in the store, try accessing it from the Microsoft Band content on http://www.microsoftstore.com .  High demand for the app may be causing some on-the-fly adjustments being made to the app on the Windows Phone store site.

  7. Ryan says:

    Great, thanks Derek, found it, got it working, looks great.  Do you know if there is any API /SDK available for it or one that will come out?  We have some cool app ideas, but I need to tap into it to gather the health data.

    Thanks.

  8. Dave Chase says:

    This is the first health band/tracker that I have found indispensable. I've owned 5 others before this one. Interestingly, the part that is indispensable is the productivity-related features. For example, it has saved me from calls I would have otherwise missed (when the phone wasn't in my pocket and the band buzzed). It's also kept me from being late and noticed some text messages.

    I tried the workout feature and my sore body today is proof it helped me push harder. The GPS hasn't performed consistently so they have some work to do on that. It's going to be an interesting space to watch.

  9. hlthblog says:

    Dave,

    Thanks for weighing in. Your experience mirrors my own. I too love the productivity angle and I know it will only get better as we are able to deliver more actionable insights to life at home and work.

  10. daviddou says:

    I just purchased one .. after seeing a demo at CHC and have to say , as a rev 1 release – this is a very slick /cool device.  I love the fact that I can access 'Cortana' from it and all its functionality it provides.   Very Excited at the next release , and I can only imagine the great things ahead for this device .. While not perfect, I have to say my Surface Pro 3 has come a long long way since the RT version.  And the fact that iOS, Android Apps were ALREADY in their respective 'marketplaces' on Day 1 – in my mind shows a different/exciting way of thinking for MSFT .  

  11. Harry says:

    Where can I get insights into the sleep statistics? I get zero restful sleep but lots of light sleep. What does that mean?

    Thanks

  12. hlthblog says:

    Harry,

    The Band measures sleep state through an algorithm looking at heart rate and activity (movement). It certainly isn't as accurate as a clinical "sleep study" but it does possibly indicate that you are not getting much if any deep sleep. Since I don't know anything about you (age, medical condition, etc.) I can only make general comments. You may wish to discuss this with your own physician. Certainly he or she would want to rule out sleep apnea or other physical or physiological states that might interfere with sleep. You should also avoid alcohol or caffeine in the evening and make sure you stop doing computer work a few hours before bedtime.  

    Bill Crouse, MD

  13. Phil says:

    Bill,

    Any sense of when/how I can get my hands on an SDK for band? I don't even need to release apps, but would love to do a couple of things to use on my own band.

    Thanks!

  14. hlthblog says:

    Phil,

    I cannot provide an exact date but I know the SDK will be forthcoming. Our Band team is working day and night to deliver this to market. I'm confident there will be some big announcements in the weeks and moths ahead. Thanks for your interest.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  15. Parrotlover77 says:

    Still waiting on the SDK, or at least an announcement.  Even if the announcement was way in the futur elike  "SDK coming in October 2015" at least then I would know how to plan.

  16. Bill Crounse, MD says:

    For those who've been asking about a date for the Microsoft Band SDK; my colleagues in that team have informed me that the SDK will be available in February.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  17. hlthblog says:

    Parrotlover,

    I just learned today that the Microsoft Band SDK will be available in February 2015.

    Bill Crounse, MD

  18. Nell says:

    Dear Mr Crounse,

    The SDK that is going to be available next month (Feb 2015) is also compatible with the Android phones please? (As I need to create an APP using an Android device which is then able to communicate with the band (transferring the sensors data)).

    Thanks in advanced.

    Regards,

    Nell

  19. Trebletone says:

    When is Microsoft going to be open and report on the progress with Microsoft Health and Band web based interface and the full insights experience that was promised with the band.

    You are gathering our data but not keeping us informed as to when you will be giving full and proper access to all the information.

    Keeping us in the dark is very poor show and demonstrates a scant disregard to your customers and what essentially are the early adopters of your device.

  20. Anticipation says:

    Hopefully the team will release both the SDK and more robust app updates this month. I love the Band but the app is seriously lacking. Bluetooth connectivity issues, lack of data insights, goals, etc. Fingers crossed!

  21. Josh says:

    Downloaded the SDK yesterday! Where's the interface for galvanic skin response though? All the other sensors are exposed through the API.

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