Patent Shows Microsoft Wants in on the Smartwatch Action

A just released Microsoft patent application shows the Windows maker has had its eye on the smartwatch market for some time, and it may be planning on targeting fitness features, much like Apple's rumored iWatch.

Patent application shows Microsoft's interest in smartwatch marketPatent application shows Microsoft's interest in smartwatch market

Microsoft's patent application was filed in October 2012, according to CNN, and details a wrist worn device that includes phone, messaging, music playback, and fitness tracking features. The watch can also detach from its wristband for recharging.

The smartwatch market is still in its infancy with companies like Pebble selling a device that extends the functionality of the iPhone, and Samsung scrambling to grab some marketshare with its cobble together Galaxy Gear. On the fitness side, companies like Fitbit and Jawbone are fighting for our wrists, while Nike is essentially killing off its own Fuelband wristband to focus on developing software for other device makers.

Apple hasn't entered the market yet, but is widely expected to do so soon. The company's long rumored iWatch device is expected to include health and fitness tracking features, and will likely offer other functions, too.

Apple will likely send the wearables market into a frenzy whenever it finally does start releasing products, which has competitors rushing to grab what they can before that happens. Microsoft has already tried to get into the space through collaborations with other companies such as Suunto and Fossil, although so far it hasn't been able to gain any ground. Consumer interest in Microsoft's collaboration was so low, in fact, that the company killed it in 2008.

Microsoft has begun developing more of its own hardware to run on its Windows platform through its Surface tablets, and soon through its purchase of Nokia's handset division. Making its own wearable tech devices, including smartwatches, is a natural extension of those plans.

Microsoft isn't commenting on its plans for the smartwatch market, but it's clear the company is seriously considering its options, and that may include making its own devices.