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Could a 'Zunewatch' be Microsoft's next hardware foray?

Redmond tipped for possible smartwatch unveiling this year

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Add Microsoft to the list of companies said to be working on smartwatch devices.

The Redmond-based giant is developing its own wrist-mounted device with its eye on a possible release later this year, according to a report by Forbes, which cites "multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans."

Forbes suggests that the device would include a number of sensors that would provide fitness-tracking functions, such as a heart-rate monitor, and would interface with iOS and Android devices as well as Windows Phone handsets.

The Zunewatch, as it will most certainly not be named, is also said to feature a two-day battery life and a touchscreen display that rests on the underside of the wrist rather than on top, to make it easier to check your pulse.

When reached for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company had "nothing to share" on the matter.

If the rumor is true, a smartwatch release would put Microsoft alongside such mobile rivals as Apple and Samsung, as well as the upstart Pebble, in the emerging field of wrist-mounted smartwatch devices. Samsung has offered its Galaxy Gear to little market success, while Apple is reportedly hard at work building a wrist-based complement to the iOS family that could likewise hit shelves later this year.

But this would not be Redmond's first foray into the watch space. More than a decade ago, the company put out a connected watch platform dubbed SPOT with support from watchmakers such as Fossil and Citizen.

That platform, which used FM radio signals to send digital content from Microsoft's MSN service, sputtered about for several years before Microsoft finally killed it off in 2012. ®

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