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Microsoft Enters the Wearable Technology Race

Microsoft is jumping on the wearable technology bandwagon, literally, with its new Microsoft Band available Thursday in the U.S for $199. The adjustable plastic band, outfitted with a 1.4-inch full color touch screen, covers all the bases expected of hi-tech accessories today: step tracking, heart and sleep monitoring and GPS features—but takes it up a notch with a UV sensor for the wearer to keep tabs on their sun exposure, and a skin temperature monitor that uses optical sensors, which are more accurate than audio sensors found in other brands’ bands. Wearers can even make their Starbucks purchases with the swipe of their wrist.

And in a bold move that may draw users away from its biggest competitors, the band syncs with iPhone and Android devices.

By connecting the band to other types of devices, Microsoft aims to expand the use of its Microsoft Health platform, its recently launched cloud service for consumers to store and combine health and fitness data. Users have access to guided workouts curated by Gold’s Gym, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness. The app also works with fitness tracking systems, including UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. Soon, it will allow wearers to connect that data to medical providers via HealthVault.

Under Armour director of business development Brian Pitstick said, “As a leader in Connected Fitness, we are excited to take part in the Microsoft Health platform. Both Microsoft Health and Under Armour/MapMyFitness aspire to connect a wide range of fitness tracking devices, via an open cloud platform, to make fitness simpler and more rewarding. We look forward to the development of Microsoft Health and cannot wait to share even greater insights with our community.”