Back in 2016, Microsoft discontinued its Microsoft Band 2 and left the fitness tracking hardware market. While the Band always felt like a side project, it was another failed Microsoft project, even if it did survive two generations. A new Microsoft patent suggests the company may not be completely done with fitness wearables after all.
Published on WIPO (via Windows Latest), the patent was awarded in this month but was originally applied for back in November 2019. In the patent, Microsoft describes a fitness tracker. As you might expect, this looks a lot like the Surface Band.
That means it is more fitness band that smartwatch, at least in terms of design. Naturally, the underlying technology has been updated in the four years since the Surface Band 2 was discontinued.
Among the sensors Microsoft proposes will measure blood pressure, elasticity, blood vessel size, swim stroke volume, and of course heart rate. Furthermore, a photo detector will be used to create an electrical output on the skin.
“The amount of light passing through the skin is highly dependent on the intensity/wavelength of the light, the skin tone of the wearer, and other parameters like device placement, underlying tissue heterogeneity, etc,” Microsoft noted in the patent filing.
So, what can we make of this patent? There are a couple of possibilities:
Microsoft is simply covering its bases and patenting technology to prevent other companies using it. This means no new hardware is in development and the company will license the technology. Perhaps Microsoft wants OEMs to embrace the idea and build devices by using the company's ideas.
While the Surface Band moved through two generations, it never felt like a product Microsoft was fully behind. Certainly, the company did not brand it under its Surface division. With the Surface Duo launching this year to signal Redmond's return to smartphone hardware, an accompanying “Surface Band” could make sense.