The battle for wearable supremacy is underway as companies such as Google, Apple, Fitbit, Nike, Under Armor, Levi’s, and many more take up arms and position themselves as the go-to business for connected technology. Even though Microsoft has its own wearables in the market with the Microsoft Band and Band 2 representing, it’s a relatively small outpost of renegades by comparison.
However, as a principal consultant from LexInnova reports, Microsoft is quietly amassing an arsenal of wearable patent filings that could help level its presence on connected technology battlefield. According to Rana Pratap, who spoke with IBD, Microsoft has issued 53 patent filings directly related to wrist-worn devices, 13 more pertaining to eyewear and some additional 619 other wearable patents for various other means. Microsoft’s amount of filed patents for wearable associated technology ranks it as the worldwide leader in the category.
For comparison, runner-up Philips (PHG) sits inches behind Microsoft at 756 wearable-related patents filings. Perhaps even more impressive is how Microsoft is outpacing its well-known competitors for filings, with the maker of Android Wear and Google Glass holding on to the number three spot with 602 patent filings. Unsurprisingly, similar to its R&D spend, Apple has chosen to keep its filings rather limited for now, only marking 192 of them.
As for what Microsoft plans to do with its horde of patents (barring their approval) is unclear. Pratap and IBD speculate on several hypothesis ranging from licensing deals to business-to-business applications in the health monitoring and diagnostics industries.
Personally, I side with the former. As the company has shown, arguably callously with Windows Phone, it isn’t as much interested in producing hardware as it is on leveraging the strengths of its partners.
Perhaps, down the road, if Apple, Philips, Google ala Alphabet or some other business seize the market in ways Microsoft cannot, the company will still have several cards to play, reminiscent of its Android patent war chest. As it stands today, Microsoft appears to be leveraging its Android patents to get itself on devices it would otherwise be locked out of, due to its failings in mobile. Microsoft’s abundance of wearable-related patents, right now, are probably just a rainy day measure with no real expectation of hardware for the masses.