According to a report from Forbes, the company is said to be readying a new wrist computer which will be able to communicate with Microsoft Windows Phones as well as other devices, which run on Apple's (APPL) iOS and Google's (GOOG) Android operating systems.
Microsoft could not be immediately reached for comment.
Shares of Microsoft were up 0.19% to $40.42 in early New York trading.
This would not be Microsoft's first attempt at smartwatches. A decade ago, Microsoft teamed with manufacturers such as Fossil (FOSL), Suunto, Tissot and Swatch to create "SPOT," or Smart Personal Object Technology. Those devices utilized the MSN Direct wireless service (and unused portions of local FM radio station broadcast frequencies) to deliver the time, weather, sports scores and simple messages. The $59/year service lasted four years. There were also other devices in the SPOT program, including a coffee maker made by Melitta. In March 2012, Microsoft was believed to have spent $150 million to purchase patents from San Francisco's Osterhaut Design Group for a wrist device as well as for headsets. According to the report, one of the main functions of the new smartwatch will be to act as a heart rate monitor like the latest series of wrist devices released by Samsung. The Microsoft model is said to draw heavily upon research already incorporated into the company's Xbox Kinect devices. A heart rate monitoring wrist device is also not a new idea for Microsoft. Two years ago, the company was granted a patent for what was termed a wearable EKG machine along with a wrist band capable of measuring muscle movements which could control other mobile devices. At the time, there were rumors Microsoft was developing a wearable fitness device for use with its Kinect Play Fit service, but so far, nothing has come of those rumors. Any new Microsoft smartwatch device will have to compete with current Samsung models as well as devices (real and rumored) from Apple, Google, Sony (SNE), Pebble, LG, Motorola and others in what is rapidly becoming a very crowded field. Microsoft could introduce the new smartwatch as early as this summer.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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