Skydiving app uses the Microsoft Band 2's barometric sensor as a smart altimeter

The Microsoft Band 2 was the inspiration for a new third-party app designed to assist skydivers. Developer David Vescovi created an altimeter app that is designed to assist skydivers on when they should open their chutes.

Vescovi found the Microsoft Band 2 had a barometric pressure transducer sensor:

"Atmospheric pressure is one way of determining altitude and believe it or not it is remarkably accurate. As an avid skydiver, I thought it would be cool to develop an app that mimics my regular altimeter gear I use quite regularly. The pressure measurement technique has several advantages over using say GSP like quick update rates, the ability to zero to AGL (Above Ground Level) and the fact it does not rely on a satellite signal."

Microsoft Band 2 altimeter app and phone

The app that he created even includes a way for the Microsoft Band 2 to vibrate when its time to pull the ripcord. He has posted the code for the app on GitHub for any developer to check out and perhaps improve. He added:

"Of course this is just a proof of concept now but could be expanded to incorporate more advanced features like total freefall time, freefall speed, opening altitude etc.features found in some of the more advanced (and expensive) skydiving equipment. The other sensors, like the accelerometer and gyro can also be incorporated to calculate things like glide-slope, a parameter of particular interest to the wing-suit skydiving community."

Thanks to Rod Trent for the tip!

Source: Embedded101

  • Nice...its raining apps....
  • ??
  • Almost literally...
  • on Android and iOS.
  • C'mon Akira, don't you have anything more insightful to say?
  • Now that's some extreme way of using the Band..!! :P:P
  • "You are now beyond the point of return. God bless."
  • Um, I would NOT rely on that haha The band is great. I've had both, but they're pretty unreliable as far as notifications of any sort. Not just texts either. I slept with mine (and not in the pleasurable way) the other night. It prompted me using the smart alarm when to wake... but it somehow didn't record my sleep. STrange.   Don't get me wrong, I love my band2 (gave the band1 to the gf), but I wouldn't rely on it for a life-or-death activity such as skydiving lmao
  • Ideally you should tell it when you are going to sleep. Hit the action button when you go to the moon icon. This also tells the band to go into do not disturb mode. Setting the alarm does not coincide with telling the band you are attempting to sleep.
    Also, if you don't use the action the data is processed in the cloud to determine your sleep..but it can take a couple hours to show up in the Health app. And when it is detected, it doesn't seem to give sleep quality metric.
  • ^
  • I know how to manually tell it to track my sleep, but I was speaking on the auto-tracking function. Also I'm not talking about the alarm clock, I'm talking about the Smart alarm when it wakes you based on your sleeping pattern (up to 30 mins before the time you wake up).   I did this 2 days ago, it should have showed up in the app by now. Not sure how you got so much of what I said mixed up lol
  • You have to be tracking your sleep to use the smart alarm.
  • Well, what do you know! Microsoft Band 2 differentiates itself with an altimeter, and viola, they get a win, or at least, a beta of one.
  • Ummm - no. I'm not the first one trying that - there's a HUGE downside if it doesn't work as advertised.
  • You wouldn't try it without back up regular gear. Testing always requires redundancy
  • I he's using Windows 10 on his phone, he will lose the bluetooth connection half way down...
  • Doesn't matter. It's all processed on the band. Glide slope and other things can be looked over after you are down
  • Ace. Band 2: skydiving tile, no walking tile..
  • Agreed. For now I using running. I'll survive.
  • OK is someone really going to risk their life on a Band app? 
  • No one is "risking their life" relying on the band. Primary altimiter is always your eyes and how big the houses are. With a little experience you know where you are. Electronic baro altimieters have been in use for well over 15 years in this sport. Very reliable. I'd be more leery of a GPS solution.
  • To an extent I agree, though having done nearly 50 jumps and being pretty inexperienced I still struggle to work out my altitide from eyes only until I get to the sub 2k feet range. Also, jumping at different airfields can easily make that judgement pretty tricky - the 2nd UK DZ I jumped at warned me that the fields around it are much smaller than around the DZ than where I learned, so to be careful as eyeballing my altitude would actually put me way lower than I thought. Agree though that the electric baro altis are a good option though the Band 2 is around half the price of a decent brand new one this could be a very interesting option if it becomes very reliable. Having said that I'm pretty happy keeping it simple with an analogue mechnical option.
  • Imagine how they would try to fix a bug for this: Step 1: Jump out of a plane with a Band and Surface with Visual Studio installed Step 2: Connect your band to your tablet Step 3: Start debugging Step 4: At around 800 feet, the breakpoint will be hit Step 5: The altitude being reported is off by 10 feet By the time you can investigate the bug, you have hit the ground.
  • oh great! I was just planning on going skydiving during lunch.... 
  • in this case i choose analog instruments instead :D I jumped twice on my own, and wouldn't trust it :D I don't even trust my Ambit3 watch :D
  • ​ has that feature really been tested properly? Sounds quite gimmicky?
  • Actually it will be very neat as a data recording tool along with gyro, accel, gps, etc. Or it could be used to automate camera functions (turning on when reaching altitud, start recording, split the video once under open canopy, stop camera after landing). I don't know if the band's GPS can keep up on freefall, but none of the phones i tried could...
  • I'm going to start sky diving now! So pumped!
  • I hope that app has lots of liability insurance.
  • Seriously.. This is the best piece of news regarding MS Band in days or since the band 2 was released.. And the comments here are just ridiculous! What a piece of crap this community has become... So sad.. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ohhh does the Apple watch do this? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Amazing times. Pretty cool what some folks these days attempt. (while the majority stand around dissing those pioneers)
  • Make sure to leave your Microsoft password with next of kin....for the negative review if needed.
  • Very cool work dev! Even more so that the dev shared the source.
  • I dont jump anymore, but did well over 1,000 jumps in the 90's. This would've been a fun thing to have...
  • For those using the band 2 on Android, how is the experience? Can you respond to text/phone calls? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I'm surprised you feel the haptic as you're hurtling to Earth. It can't be silent up there with the wind rush