For the last month I have had Microsofts new fitness band on pre-order waiting for the official UK release. It finally turned up this week. As a software developer and developer leader I spend most of my time sitting down, which isn’t great for your long term health. Recently Me and my Wife decided to take out joint gym memberships so we could get a bit healthier. I could certainly do with loosing some weight.
Naturally being a gadget geek I wanted to augment this experience with some technology and as I have made my career what it is by working in the Microsoft Space it made sense to try our their fitness tracker.
So far I have been very impressed with it. The band is comfortable to wear and although it looks bulky on top it looks reasonable in my opinion. The band contains 10 sensors, to measure heart rate, steps, calories, Sun UV, GPS and all this is available via a touch screen.
The main features for the band are :
- 24-hour heart rate tracking – Monitor your heart rate 24 hours a day so you can perform at your best
- Sleep Tracking – See how long and how well you sleep and how often you wake
- GPS Run Mapping – Map the routes you’ve run, biked, or hiked and save your favorites
- Get the most out of Microsoft Band with the Microsoft Health app and a full-featured web dashboard
- Works with the phone you own – iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone Microsoft Band is designed to be awesome on multiple platforms
- Works with Windows Phone 8.1 update, iOS 7.1 and later and Android 4.3-5.0 phones, with Bluetooth
The main configuration I have done with the band is to turn off email, message and phone notifications. Personally I find them annoying, but I know some people like this sort of thing. What I do love though is the ability to track steps, calories and heart-rate. You can set up calorie, and walking targets so you can measure if you are hitting your own targets. I have the steps target set to 10,000 steps and the calorie burn target set to 2600 calories.
When you want to do some exercise like a gym workout, run or bike ride you can put the band into exercise mode which keeps the screen on and shows you all the vitals you need like length of time exercising, number of steps, calories and heart rate. All this data is tracked over time and when you finish the work out it is all synced to your phone.
Microsoft also has a web dashboard you can log into, and your phone will automatically sync your data with the dashboard. In the screen shot below you can see a workout I did at the gym. The chart is tracking heart rate over the hour workout, and you can see calories burned and other useful bits of information.
Another feature of the Microsoft Band I really like is the mode to track your sleep patterns. You set this mode just before you go to bed and it will monitor your sleep quality, when you are in restful deep sleep, light sleep and awake. The example below is from the other night.
You can see that out of nearly 7 hours sleep, I got 2 hours 40 minutes of restful sleep and 3 hours 53 minutes of light sleep. I was woken up at midnight and just after 4am when my youngest child woke up. I used to be a deep sleeper, but since having kids I’m a much lighter sleeper.
All in all I am happy with the wrist band. It is useful getting some insight into my daily telemetry and it is suitably geeky enough that I will want to go to the gym. I have just bought a 2nd Microsoft Band for my wife as she really liked the look of it. The operation of the band has been faultless and it is very easy to use. Microsoft has clearly put a lot of thought into how it works.
Software Developers rejoice, there is a set of SDK’s you can use to write apps to make use of the bands sensors, so I am expecting there to be lots of interesting integrations coming out in the not too distant future. I plan to give this a try myself.