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Microsoft Takes Another Stab at Health Market With Cloud Service, $199 Fitness Band

The fitness band will go on sale Thursday and works with iOS, Android devices and Windows Phone.

Microsoft

Microsoft on Wednesday took the wraps off a long-expected wearable that will plug into a new Microsoft Health fitness tracking service.

Microsoft Band will go on sale Thursday for $199 and be available at Microsoft’s physical and online stores. The device, which somewhat resembles Samsung’s Gear Fit, is designed to last 48 hours on a single charge and to be worn all day to track both sleep and exercise, as well as receive smartphone notifications.

The band has 10 sensors to track the usual things like heart rate, as well as more novel detectors, including a UV sensor for sun exposure and a galvanic skin response measurement, which can help identify stress. The Microsoft Health cloud-based service can crunch the data gathered from Microsoft’s Band as well as from other devices, including rival smartphones and fitness bands. A companion app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone offers a deeper look at the data.

Microsoft

It’s not Microsoft’s first effort to play a role in digital health. It launched HealthVault back in 2007. Microsoft says the new service can plug into HealthVault, which is more focused on medical records than personal fitness data.

Nor is Microsoft alone among tech giants in this space. Apple started HealthKit, and Google has Google Fit. Samsung also announced a similar effort earlier this year.

Microsoft is leaning on the fact that it works with all the major mobile ecosystems as a key selling point.

“We are as open as you get,” said Matt Barlow, who heads marketing for new devices. “We are iOS, we are Android and we are Windows Phone.”

Redmond is even willing to let other hardware makers tap its sensor technology, with each of the 10 sensors and accompanying software available for licensing.

One lingering question is just how big the fitness band market will get. By one report, only around 3.3 million activity trackers were sold between the spring of 2013 and this past spring, though the whole wearable market is still predicted to grow amid new entrants like Apple.

Microsoft Health can also measure your work life and can, for example, determine how a long meeting with the boss might have affected your night’s sleep. Other features include access to Facebook and Twitter, as well as weather and stocks.

The company had planned to announce the product later on Wednesday, but it leaked out after the company posted details of the companion Windows Phone app, an Android App and a iOS app ahead of the official announcement.

Microsoft hopes the features will grow over time. It’s working with a bunch of partners, including MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, Jawbone and Starbucks, with the latter allowing users to pay for their coffee with a gift card barcode on the watch. A broader software development kit is planned for January.

Longtime Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi has been among those spearheading Microsoft’s latest fitness efforts, along with corporate VP Todd Holmdahl.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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