Microsoft Unveils Cloud-Powered Health Platform And Microsoft Band For Healthier Living

In case you haven't noticed, companies small and large seem to believe that health -- and in particular, connected health -- is the next major cash cow. As fitness slots into the mainstream attention, it's an ideal time for the likes of Apple, Google, LG, Samsung, Fitbit, and now Microsoft to make a splash in both health and wearables. Microsoft is joining the war this week with a new platform called Microsoft Health. According to the company, it sees an opportunity to bring devices and services together to allow end users to "combine the information they collect and use the power of the cloud to turn that data in to something more valuable."

The Microsoft Health platform includes a cloud service for consumers and the industry to store and combine health and fitness data to create powerful insights. Microsoft Health will be available for consumers from the new Microsoft Health app which launches today on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Of course, software is only half of the equation, and hardware the other. The Microsoft Band, a simply titled product, is also launching today.

On the platform side, Health will "unite data from different health and fitness devices and services in a single, secure location," and once it's in Health, you can "combine the data you generate from different devices and services – steps, calories, heart rate and more –  to receive powerful insights from our Intelligence Engine." Over time, you will have the choice to combine your fitness data with calendar and email information from Office as well as location-based information and more.

At launch, Health will work with UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. Soon, Microsoft Health will also allow you, at your choosing, to connect your Microsoft Health data to HealthVault to share with your medical provider. As for Band, it's a wearable designed to be worn 24 hours per day. The Microsoft Band has 10 smart sensors for 24-hour heart rate monitoring, calorie burn measurement, advanced sleep quality tracking and more as well as Guided Workouts curated by Gold’s Gym, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness. The Microsoft Band will keep you connected at a glance with helpful, smart notifications including incoming calls, emails, texts and social updates as well as access to Cortana.

Those looking to get their wrist on it can find them now in the U.S. (albeit in limited quantities to start) for $199.