NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT) and Nintendo (NTDOY) have both announced new, health-related gadgets joining an ever-expanding array of products coming from tech companies as they enter the burgeoning wearables market.
The technology industry has been pushing it for a couple of years, be it with Jawbone's various devices, Fitbit's offerings, or Samsung's attempts with its Galaxy Gear smartwatch offerings. Microsoft and Nintendo, as well as others are looking to enter a market that's expected to be exceptionally lucrative, expected to be worth $60 billion by 2018, according to IHS.
The Microsoft Band, which retails for $199.99, was introduced via a press release and offered for sale on a new Website. Microsoft is marketing it as a fitness device so it can monitor your heart rate, help keep track of your workouts and even track your sleep (if you wear it all night). It's also a smartwatch capable of telling time, displaying email alerts and calendar notifications and Microsoft's voice assistant Cortana is included as well, helping the device notes, inform of news, weather and stock information and even help with directions.
Band comes in three sizes, measures 0.75-inch wide, 0.34-inch thick and weighs slightly more than 2 ounces. Inside is an ARM (ARMH) Cortex M4 processor mated with 64 MB (not GB) of storage. Also jammed inside are a optical heart rate sensor, ambient light, UV, skin temperature and galvanic response sensors, GPS and two rechargeable batteries which Microsoft claims is good for up to two days of use. A full charge is said to take only 90 minutes.
"Microsoft's Band is more of a souped-up fitness tracker than a smart watch," said Ed Maguire, analyst with CLSA via email after opening the box containing his sample device. "The Band is at its heart a fitness tracking appliance with alerting capabilities. It's got a lot more in common with the Samsung Gear and Nike Fuelband than with the Pebble, Basis or Apple Watch."
The device's most popular feature could turn out to be its connectivity, as it's available on all the major operating systems. It will work with numerous devices running Google's (GOOG) Android operating system (versions 4.3 and 4.4), Apple's (AAPL) iOS 7.1 and, of course the latest version of Microsoft's own Windows Phone (8.1). There's a free, downloadable app to control and monitor things on the platform of your choice.
Microsoft's new device will have to compete with similar devices from a rapidly-growing field of competitors including Samsung (SSNLF) , LG, Motorola, Sony (SNE) , Pebble and many other manufacturers. Starting early next year, all of these companies will have to deal with a new line of Apple Watch devices.
This morning, Samsung announced that it's next-generation smartwatch, the Gear S, will be offered for sale in the United States beginning next Friday, Nov. 7th. Featuring a 2-inch Super AMOLED display and running on Samsung's own Tizen operating system, Gear S will be sold through AT&T (T) , Sprint (S) , T-Mobile (TMUS) and Verizon (VZ) .
Nintendo is taking a different approach than Microsoft and the others, with its upcoming health-related device. It's not designed for your wrist, however CEO Satoru Iwata announced that his company is working on a device which will measure a user's fatigue and then map and monitor the user while they sleep.
The as-of-yet unnamed device is designed to sit on the night table next to your bed. As described, the small box will use microwave transmission sensors to track a user's sleep and allow offer ideas for changing sleep habits based on collected data.
The product is being co-developed with U.S.-based ResMed (RMD) and will be the first offered from the Nintendo's newly created healthcare division. No release date or possible price has been set.
While Nintendo's design has yet to be seen, Microsoft will have to do a lot of work to convince people it's ready to go up against the Apple Watch and other devices already on the market. "It's a 'me too' solution for Microsoft although we like the strategy as it further spreads the gospel to consumers worldwide," FBR Capital analyst Daniel Ives said in an email. "This remains an uphill area for Microsoft going forward to gain share."-- Written by Gary Krakow with additional reporting by Chris Ciaccia in New York.
To submit a news tip, send an email to email@example.com.