Understanding the Microsoft Band sensors

Microsoft Band features

Although the Microsoft Band is a version 1.0 device, meaning that you’ll find many aspects of the device that needs improvement, the band does a lot of things. It tracks your heart rate, steps, walks, and runs, burned calories, and tracks your sleep quality, UV exposure, and galvanic skin response measurement, which can be used to measure stress levels. These are a lot of health features and that’s not all… You also get Cortana integration (if you’ve a Windows Phone), integrated GPS (no phone needed to go for a run), push notifications with haptic alerts, for social updates, calendar reminders, and phone calls received, text and email messages, weather and finance updates.

As you can see, there is a lot going on your wrist with a device of a 310 x 102 pixels resolution and a battery that can last up to 48 hours. Everything is possible thanks to the sensors and software, Microsoft has packed in such tiny device. Plus the Microsoft Health, the new Microsoft’s cloud service behind all the calculations that will make sense of all the information collected for you to live a healthier and productive live.

Here is an overview of all the sensors packed in the Microsoft Band.

Optical heart rate monitor: The Microsoft Band is capable of monitoring and reporting your heart rate 24/7. And fluctuations in the measurements help to better determine your quality calories burned and to improve stats in your activity levels.

Accelerometer/Gyrometer: When you start moving, the accelerometer/gyrometer is in charge to detect you movement. Thanks to this censor things like number of steps you’ve taken can be calculated and combined with your heart rate measurements calories burned are calculated. Also heart rate and motion indicate periods of restful and light sleep.

GPS: There is no much to say about the GPS. This well-known sensor is included in the Microsoft Band and tracks your location when enabled. Later when the information is synced, you can see a map of the routes you have taken in the Microsoft Health app. As expected, the GPS data also offers refine distance and speed calculations.

Microphone: The purpose of a microphone is to speak with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant. The mic is located close the left side of the touchscreen, to activate it just press the action button.

Ambient Light Sensor: To help save battery and to display proper screen brightness in the screen, the Microsoft Band features an ambient light sensor.

Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensors: The GSR sensors are there to measure conductivity of your skin between the sensor located under the clasp and the one in the contact point under the face of the device. This sensor can help to detect stress levels and tell the Microsoft Band that you’re actually wearing it and it can properly monitor your activities.

UV sensor: Tapping the UV Tile, you can view the UV level in your surroundings, so you can decide if you need sunscreen, a hat, or you can decide to go out at all.

And finally there is a skin temperature and a capacitive sensor that combined with all the other sensors can track your health everywhere you go.

Microsoft Band operating system: Obviously this isn’t a sensor, but it’s important to note that the Microsoft Band doesn’t have an operating system, it doesn’t run Windows or even Windows Embedded. For what I hear it runs only a firmware that controls all the sensors and drivers for the components inside the band.

What we can take away from the Microsoft Band is that it currently is the device that measures more than fitness activities than any other device available in the market today. Also it’s one of the few that offers a GPS build-in to the band, and considering that it’s the first version it does a lot of amazing things.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me. Email him at [email protected].