Microsoft Smartwatch, An Xbox SPOT Watch?

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Is the Microsoft smartwatch on its way? Microsoft has apparently joined the ranks of Apple and Google in their rumored attempt to integrate proprietary technologies with your body in the form of a smartwatch. 10 years ago, Microsoft developed and released a smartwatch called the SPOT Watch, which was a major commercial failure. So, why try again? Xbox SmartGlass just may be the missing link to a successful commercial venture.

Released in 2004 the Microsoft SPOT Watch was “revolutionary, smart, and sexy” — at least for technophile geeks. It was also a major commercial failure. Launched at a time when the first generation of smartphones were just starting to gain traction amongst the general population, the watch was supposed to offer information at a glance. Unfortunately, Microsoft chose to anchor the SPOT Watch to its own proprietary FM network. Couple that with limited functionality, a lackluster screen, and looks resembling a nerdy 1980s Casio and the fledgling smartwatch was doomed before it was even released.

Today, Asian component manufacturers have confirmed that engineers at Microsoft have again been testing product for inclusion in a potential new Microsoft smartwatch. The components allegedly being tested by the Redmond based powerhouse include a 1.5″ touchscreen display. Is Microsoft planning to reenter the niche smartwatch market? Possibly so. One reason that a revamped smartwatch product offering makes sense at this time is because Microsoft already has an existing customer base, proven infrastructure, and a unique use for such technology if they can integrate a smartwatch with their popular Xbox SmartGlass. With a few user interface refinements and software tweaks, Xbox SmartGlass software could be easily ported to a touch-enabled smartwatch, further expanding the gaming experience and, thereby, tethering young users to Microsoft’s Xbox console and associated interactive services.

In its current form, Xbox SmartGlass turns a mobile phone or tablet into a second screen that intelligently interacts with an Xbox 360 to elevate the user’s entertainment experience. Xbox SmartGlass allows for smart devices to communicate with televisions to enhance TV shows, movies, music, sports and games. Since SmartGlass interactivity with smartphones and tablets is already an established success, the addition of a Microsoft smartwatch into the connected family hub should be a relatively easy task to accomplish. This unique application of smartwatch technology could give Microsoft a serious advantage over competitors, such as Apple and Google, thus allowing Microsoft to place another check in the win column.

The younger target market (gamers), is more likely to be receptive to wearing wrist-borne technology, especially if it further enhances their gaming experience. Tie in Xbox Live to a wirelessly connected smartwatch, and Microsoft gains the means to track and market to users 24/7. The potential revenue stream from such a technological symbiosis is just too great for Microsoft to pass up. However, as they learned from the SPOT Watch failure, Microsoft needs to implement mainstream cutting edge technology and steer clear of trying to short-sightedly force inferior proprietary solutions upon consumers simply to generate revenue. If Microsoft builds a truly great smartwatch, the bottom line will take care of itself … Apple’s success has surely proven that business model.


Microsoft Smartwatch: [Company Website]

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Jon is the Editor-In-Chief at Wear Guide and writes about wearable technology On Your Arm.  Jon has a M.S. in Computer Science, won several intercollegiate events as a member of the UCLA Cycling Team, and is currently active on the USA Triathlon circuit which provides him the opportunity to field-test wearables under grueling conditions. Jon also writes for our sister publication Send tips and story ideas to Jon at: [email protected]