UPDATE: Microsoft’s Xbox team is reportedly prototyping a wrist-worn device. A “reliable source familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans” told The Verge that the company has been working on a watch-like device for more than a year. Initially, Microsoft planned to launch an accessory for the Xbox called “Joule,” but the company has scrapped those plans since in favor of a smartwatch. The device is said to feature two removable bands attached to a 1.5-inch touch screen display.
Microsoft will now join Apple, Google, LG and Samsung as one of the major technology companies rumored to be working on a smart watch this year. Citing unnamed sources in the supply chain, The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is asking Asian suppliers to ship components for a touch-enabled wearable device.
However, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be seeing a “Surface Smart Watch” or similar device anytime soon. The Journal’s sources couldn’t confirm that the device would be officially released, and Microsoft has yet to comment on the matter. This wouldn’t be the first time a rumored product failed to make it out of Redmond’s pipeline. Back in 2010, the company was expected to launch a dual-screen digital journal called the Courier, but that never saw the light of day.
It’s also worth noting that wearable tech has been on Microsoft’s radar for quite some time. Nearly 10 years ago, in 2004, the Windows maker created its SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) watch that used FM radio signals to send messages from Windows Messenger and display other information such as news headlines, stock updates and weather forecasts as part of a paid subscription. The company, however, stopped production of the SPOT in 2008 and officially canceled the project last year.
Today’s news follows a harsh report from the IDC last week bemoaning the future of the PC industry, citing Windows 8 as a reason for the steepest decline in computer sales in 19 years. Releasing a smart watch could strengthen Microsoft’s push into mobile against rivals Apple and Google, but we’ll have to wait until the company makes an official announcement to know for sure.