Last month Forbes suggested that Microsoft’s smart watch would work with Android and iOS handsets. The supported device list may not stop there, though. Gear Live claims to have briefly used the device and suggests the “Surface Watch” will also connect to Windows computers, Macs and even the Xbox One.
Most smartwatches available today act as second screens for handsets, so the idea of a connection to a computer or a video game console is intriguing. And it may make sense, if Gear Live’s information about the watch’s hardware is correct. The site reports the wearable is packed with health-tracking sensors:
“It has a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and most interestingly, a galvanic skin response sensor all built-in. The galvanic skin response sensor is built into the watch band, while everything else is built into the unit itself.”
While smartwatches tend to be smartphone accessories, some health-tracking devices on the market today can connect to computers as well as handsets. And recent decisions by Microsoft show that it wants to support as many platforms as it can with its products — even Chromebooks. So it makes sense for a smartwatch from Seattle to follow suit. After all, if Microsoft were to make a watch that only supports its own Windows Phone handsets, it would be vastly limiting its potential sales since iOS and Android phones rule the roost.
Having the watch connect to an Xbox One is interesting and, if that’s true, may tell us something about how the watch will connect to devices. I don’t believe the Xbox One has Bluetooth, which is the wireless connection type typically used by most smartwatches and health-related wearables today. I could be wrong on the Xbox One hardware, although I did check the Bluetooth SIG’s product certification site and don’t see the game console listed.
Assuming my quick fact check is correct — and that Gear Live has accurate information — that suggests to me that Microsoft’s smart watch would use a direct Wi-Fi connection to transmit data between it and the Xbox One. It’s possible that it uses the same method for the other devices as well; they all have Wi-Fi radios inside them. Or the watch could have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, using whichever radio it needs to for various devices.
Regardless of how it would connect to an Xbox One, a smartwatch filled with those sensors could provide interesting data to games titles, particularly exercise and health-related games that use Kinect to get you moving. Instead of tracking physical movement through the Kinect cameras, the game could get actual health data such as blood pressure and heart-rate while playing. I just might be playing more with the Xbox One to stay in shape if that happens.