Skip to main content

Microsoft Band hackathon shows some fun and practical uses for the wearable

The Microsoft Band Preview SDK is now making the rounds for iOS, Android, Windows Phone. Microsoft is still getting feedback from developers on what they like – and don't like – about the SDK. One way they do that is through a hackathon, whereby teams of developers need to come up with an idea and make a workable app usually in 24-hours.

Microsoft recently held one of these Band hackathons and invited UI Centric to participate.

In the UI Centric video, you can see two app creations demoed. One uses the Band's temperature sensor to turn on a fan when a certain threshold was reached. The other is a virtual egg carrying race, whereby participants have to pretend they are taking an egg as they make laps to see who is the fastest. The gyroscopes provide data to ensure that the person's hand stays steady during the event. Otherwise the "egg" breaks.

Not all is perfect with the SDK Preview though. As noted in the blog post, there are some limitations for developers that hinder what they can do with the Band:

"Firstly it is impossible to have a two-way dialog with the band whereby the user can respond to a notification in some meaningful way. Also unavailable to developers is the ability to draw any kind of custom user interface on the band itself, or to access presses of the action button. Finally on the Windows Phone SDK specifically there are some issues with trying to use the SDK from a background task which severely limits the number of actually useful scenarios we can envisage."

Microsoft is aware of the limitations and hopefully when the final Band SDK arrives, it offers developers the tools they need to create new and useful products.

The idea of having the air conditioner turn on when your body temperature hits a particular threshold is an enticing bit of home automation we would like to see. Additionally, being able to link up multiple Bands to one app also opens up some unique possibilities.

Check out the video and let us know what you think. Oh, and if you recognize the chap in the video, that is our very own Jay Bennett, who makes the Windows Central Windows and Windows Phone apps. If you wonder what he has been up to (instead of updating the app, ahem) there you go!

Source: UI Centric; Thanks, Brian F., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

63 Comments
  • I just want a thinner, rounder Gen 2 Microsoft Band.
    I was really excited about this concept art (http://i1-news.softpedia-static.com/images/news2/Microsoft-Sport-Smartwa...) and a lot of the Band's design resembled that... just thicker.
  • It's already pretty thin... I could go for a rounder screen, I guess.
  • I cant wear it while I work on a keyboard, as resting my wrist gets pretty uncomfortable
  • Yeah, that's a pretty big deal breaker. I can wear my Nike FuelBand while doing my work... but the band is thicker in every way.
  • I'm am IT manager and I type all day with my band on. It doesn't bother me at all. I am however waiting for B2 and that concept looks great
  • Ergonomically you're not supposed to wrest your wrists while typing.
  • You can. Have been doing that for a couple of months allready. Just put the keyboard more to edge of the desk. So you can still rest your wrist and the Band sitting just off the desk.
  • With much wider international release.
  • They also really need to add NFC, so you can do tap to pair and nfc payments with it.
  • That's a nice design.
  • Let them access anything but the user interface, I want that to remain as it and not a bunch of customs ones based on some devs idea on how that tiny screen should best be laid out. Give em everything else though! Let get more apps!
  • Agreed!
  • Amen to that doubledeej
  • Still holding out for an improvement in the SDK that would allow two-way interaction.  I would LOVE to see an app that lets me get my two-factor authentication codes from my band so I don't have to pull my phone out of my pocket constantly.
  • What do you do if you need authentication constantly?
  • Probably work, or Yahoo.
  • Part of my job involves troubleshooting problems on my company's servers, which currently number over just 1300.  And while there is some overlap in authentication between them, many of them have different credentials.  And because of the type of industry we work in and my level of access, two-factor authentication is required.  Even remembering who I am for 30 days, I still have to put in two-factor codes many times per day.   I wrote a Windows app to make it easy when I'm sitting at my desk (www.maxoutput.com/authenticator), but I very often have to log in from a phone or tablet when I'm not sitting in front of my computer.  Switching between apps on a phone/tablet is still more time consuming than it should be.  Being able to just pull the codes from my wrist would be awesome. And, of course, I also use two-factor authentication to protect as many of my personal accounts as possible.
  • Awesomeness
  • Ah ok it wasn't disrespectful just curiosity. I see the need now.
  • I work for Microsoft and we have 2FA. Would be nice to have the functionality in the Band that doubledeej suggested.
  • Well if you work there, key them know as you're on the car track for people to listen.... We're only forum members
  • Windows 10 is brining a lot of changes to how app to app communication and background tasks work. I suspect implementation of two way communication and proper background task support is going to have to wait till then.
  • Lol people getting extremely angry about the limited availability, yet Daniel has two on his wrist haha.
  • It would be interesting to wear two Bands on the same wrist and also one on each wrist and compare the data.
  • Yeah indeed. I'm sorry is it even Daniel wearing them? I just assumed rofl.
  • Not my image, that was from UI Centric who had a few Bands for testing. No, I only have one Band ;) (Other wrist is for Fitbit!)
  • Ah okay thank you. I was just wondering about it. You know 2 bands at a time when the band is limited in availability.
  • (instead of updating the app, ahem). Playing with toys and new technology is always more fun, can't blame him. Even with the couple of app issues the WC app is still one of the best.
  • Where's the music control feature, we need this!
  • I will buy it once there's a V2 and there's music controls. That's when it will start to shine.   Also, international availability.
  • Soo thats what he has been upto all this time, the nerve eh! :P. Can't to see what devs come up with when the final SDK is released. On the down side, with all this home automation... people will become ridiculously lazy lol. At this rate the future depicted in Idiocracy is not that far off :P lol.
  • "Go away, I'm batin'"
  • Maybe its just me but this thing called Band is behaving much like a smart watch of late. I didn't want a Band before but now, I think I do.
  • Its far from a full-blown smart watch, but just enough capability to make it way better than a simple fitness tracker. I think they have hit the balance better than any other on the market. I dont really need to navigate maps on my wrist or browse the web or many other things the current "smart watches" do. I want a fitness device with GPS with a select few nice apps that really thoughtfully take advantage of the unique benefits of the form factor.
  • So who asked you for what you wanted? This wasn't about you and I didn't  ask your opinion of what you consider this device to be or not be. Damn pompous elitist need to get a life.
     
  • I can't tell if you are being serious or not. If you were, most of his post wasn't about what he wanted. In fact, he just defined what the Band is: A fitness tracker with some apps that expand capabilities for $199. He isn't being pompous or an elitist in this case.
  • I am dead serious. My comment was very light in nature of this heart monitor having more than expected.  Nothing more, nothing less. I think on that there is no debate. If you wish to debate his comment about what he wants or doesn't want from a heart monitor, take that shit up with him.
  • Perhaps, but you were way over the top in agressive response.  So much so, I find myself wondering how many counts of domestic abuse you've been involved in with a hair trigger temper like that.
  • You watch too much of the non-news network to suggest such a thing.
     
  • Can we at least allow for clearing notifications from the Band?
  • There is an app for that
  • And what app would that be? If you mean "clear my band" that's not what I'm talking about. I'm looking for two way clear. That app only clears the band from my phone.
  • The article said that the SDK isn't two-way.   
  • This is going to make other competitors have sleep less nights
  • I posted this in the forums 2 days ago, lol
  • I had heard about Jay doing this recently and was also wondering before that where the hell he was. Good guy.
  • Actually I've created a VS Extension to draw custom layouts for the Band. And an SDK to sideload it to your tiles. https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/befcb313-edb3-4e12-a94e-2...
  • I will be taking a look at this stuff Fela, thank you for sharing it :)
  • Thanks Fela for your update
  • This is more of a WP/W8-10 thing, but it would be nice if we could assign some trusted devices that would keep a Phone or work station unlocked while in proximity. Those with Android may know how this works. You select some BT thing or two, watch, car audio, to be trusted. If you unlock your phone while the device is in range, the phone stays unlocked until you get out of range. Then it locks and you would need to unlock it again. So, if you 'trusted' the band, you could unlock your phone, and as long as you were next to it, or it was in your pocket, it would stay unlocked. If you walked away from your phone, it would lock. With the band, an option to force the lock (maybe show status) would be nice, in case you were just going to the next office, and that was within BT range.
  • Yes and no, office is too big for Bluetooth (4), so would have to sticker the place up with trusted tags, at home I need to lock out the sweet little ones that are savvy and willing to play with the phone while clumsy enough to wreck every thing important on the phone, will have to wait for the "hello windows" authentication....
  • amazing video good programmers.... love their job!
  • This send ready cool, get it fans, cool
  • All I want on my band is analog watch faces, I miss that.
  • It's not so bad with keyboard, just takes a lil getting used to.
  • Is the band available in India?
  • No it isn't.
  • Love my band a lot. But one thing that needs improvment is how many apps it can hold. They should double the memory so it can old twice as many apps. I had to remove the starbuck app since my bike ride traking app is more important and I need all of the other apps as well. Sucks, now I have to go through the hassle to grab my phone when pying at Starbucks :)
     
  • Or use onedrive to run the apps
  • Finally I can digitise my egg races and stop wasting real eggs like some sort of egg-wasting chump!!!11!
  • I would love to launch scripts, GPO's and BAT files from this thing.  I imagine myself like Yensid in Fantasia - waving my arms in a lab full of comuters and a magic word launches a script from my band to the devices nearby.  It would look like magic to the observer....     I think it's importance could grow if MS can come up with a wireless communication standard for authentication that isn't WiFi or Bluetooth and is mandatory on all devices carrying windows in the future.  Having something like the band as an identification device would definatly draw the line between wearables and phones.  Most roll their eyes over wearables because a phone usually does what you need cheeper and quicker- but a wearable is something you would be less likely to loose therefore more secure.
  • It has to be globally availability
  • "The idea of having the air conditioner turn on when your body temperature hits a particular threshold is an enticing bit of home automation we would like to see." Well, I'm sure if your body temp is rising than you're having a fever & you would actually turn off the AC not on.