Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off their health solution. In addition to their smartband, Microsoft has announced a cloud platform called Microsoft Health. This platform will enable integration with a range of different health tracking devices and services. The aim is to provide a central, cross-platform place where users can store all of their health related data.
Microsoft is playing to their strengths here by providing a cross-platform cloud solution. Apple and Google are too entrenched into their own ecosystems to provide solutions for each other. Microsoft on the other hand is still trying to break into the mobile device market. While many competitors may attempt to keep consumers on their product by forcing them to use their device and their app, and their service, Microsoft is trying to get people interested in using their platform any way they can.
Microsoft Health can connect with a range of established services at launch such as Up by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and RunKeeper and, Microsoft plans to keep updating the service. An SDK and more cross-platform applications and services are in the pipeline according to Microsoft. An API is already available for smartband makers to plug their data into Microsoft Health. The Microsoft Health App is available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone starting today.
The App connects with the cloud service and the newly announced Microsoft Band to communicate health, fitness, workout, and notification information to users. The app is the connection between users' phone and band which gives text, email, calendar, call, and social media updates on their wrist. The watch can also connect with Cortana and preform a range of functions with voice.
The app does more than just push notifications though; it also communicates with Microsoft's cloud service to process the raw data. A smartband which gathers data is nice, but there needs to be another step in the process. Microsoft thinks they have created that step with their cloud service. Microsoft automatically collects data and returns what they call actionable insights. These are assessments on what the data may say about a workout or sleep schedule. This tells you which workout is more effective, how much time to rest after a workout, and the amount of good restful sleep in a night you will need, etc.
Microsoft Health can also combine fitness data with other data such as calendar, email, and location to paint a more complete picture of the user's lifestyle. With this extra data, Microsoft Health will be able to suggest workouts and sleep routines. Microsoft has a long history in big data and machine learning, which is how they will be making these recommendations. Microsoft also has a great track record of providing support and improvements to their platforms over time -- Microsoft Health should be no different. Time will tell if this service and band will be adopted because of the cross-platform support and powerful backend.