Microsoft Unveils Fitness Smart Band That Understands Voice Commands

You can even use the $199 Microsoft Band to buy drinks at Starbucks.

Microsoft on Thursday debuted a connected activity-tracking wristband with a heart-rate monitor that can track sleep and fitness data.


The news isn’t entirely surprising, considering how many tech companies are now eyeing the health and wearables category. Samsung has an array of smartwatches, and Apple showed off a watch of its own last month, which will be released next year. Not to mention, hours before its official launch, the Microsoft Band was leaked by the Mac App Store (thanks, Apple).

The $199 Microsoft Band, which can track steps, calories burned, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation, is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows. Featuring a color screen, it aims to surface relevant information on users’ wrists, such as calendar notifications and incoming text messages.

Microsoft also loaded its intelligent assistant, Cortana, on the band, so it understands voice commands to take notes and set reminders. In addition, Cortana can provide traffic, sports, and stock updates. Using built-in GPS, the device can deliver driving directions and map running routes.

The band also works at point-of-sale–at least in Starbucks stores, with the corresponding app. It’s not quite Apple Pay, but it does reflect the recent acceleration of mobile payments.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.