A company representative said Friday that Microsoft is planning to license its smartwatch technology with Microsoft Band to other manufacturers, putting an emphasis on the sensors powering them.
Whether Microsoft plans to implement a formal program, such as it has for Windows Phone, remains unclear. The Band does not run an operating system per se, but on Microsoft's wearable firmware, optimized for low-power micro devices, the spokesman said in an email.
"Yes on licensing the technology. Particularly the sensors, " he said.
Right away, the sensors are one of the selling points for Microsoft's $199 Band, which unexpectedly launched at Wednesday night. Inside the smartwatch/fitness band, there are ten sensors, which include a GPS, accelerometer, microphone, and gyroscope, plus sensors to measure skin capacitance, ultraviolet light, skin temperature, and continuous heart rate. The Band, Microsoft says, not only offers assistance during your workday, with calendar reminders, the Cortana digital assistant, Twitter updates, and the like, but also measures your exercise and sleep routine.
The intelligence which Cortana and a separate Intelligence Engine built into the Band might not make it to other manufacturers. But the Microsoft spokesman expressed that other smartwatch makers might be able to license the technology, therefore the sensor hardware and algorithms that monitor them could appear elsewhere. Whether Microsoft will set up a formal branding initiative--a "Powered by Band" tagline, for example--isn't known. The spokesman said Microsoft will talk more about what it plans to do with Band in the future.
Although it's hard to say how many Bands Microsoft readied before launch, the company's Web site now says it is sold out. Social media accounts owned by Microsoft employees showed long lines at Microsoft stores on Thursday, with customers presumably buying Band. And Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, tweeted Friday that the company was "looking to scale [Band] to more countries." So far, the Band is being sold only in the United States.