Tech Biz

Microsoft Surface Smartwatch Could Utilize “Transparent Aluminum”

Industry sources claim that Microsoft’s smartwatch is in the prototype phase.

J.T. Quigley

With wearable tech rising in popularity, it seems that just about every big electronics company is jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon. With Sony set to unveil the SmartWatch 2 and Apple filing trademarks for an iWatch, it is no surprise that Microsoft is jumping on board with a Windows 8-powered wrist-computer.

The task of designing a smartwatch was originally given to Microsoft’s Xbox team, but TechRadar claims that the project is now being handled by the Surface squad. It will follow the original design set forth by the Xbox team, and is rumored to include a heart-rate monitor and be powered by a smartwatch-specific version of Windows 8.

“We understand Microsoft is testing prototypes with a modified version of Windows 8, with a focus on integrating the device with other Windows-powered devices,” said The Verge. “It's suggested that notifications and music control support will be included, but it's unclear exactly how a smartwatch would complement Microsoft's existing Surface devices.”

Another recent development, originally reported by Amongtech, is that the Microsoft smartwatch could ditch the traditional glass covering in favor of aluminum oxynitride – “aluminium that is a 80 percent transparent material but still four times harder than glass.” According to MacLife, Microsoft is already securing 1.5-inch sheets of this “transparent aluminum” from multiple component manufacturers for use as a display screen.

The rugged “clear metal” purportedly coming to the Surface smartwatch is often reserved for non-consumer applications. MakeZine said that aluminum oxynitride is “expensive, of course, and so generally reserved for high-performance applications, especially in military fields.” Some of the more popular uses for the glass alternative include “armored windows, lenses for battlefield optics, and ‘seeker domes,’ which are the clear round windows covering the sensor heads on the business ends of many missiles.”

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Other possible specs have been hinted as well. As far as the Surface smartwatch’s physical appearance, AmongTech said that it will feature removable wrist bands in a variety of colors, including blue, red, yellow, black, white, and gray. Beneath its tough exterior, the Surface smartwatch is said to utilize 4G LTE connectivity and pack 6GB of internal storage, being mostly used up by the device’s operating system.

Microsoft’s answer to the smartwatch is allegedly heading to consumers late next year.