Watch out: SPOT devices coming

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Microsoft's hardware partners will unleash the first generation of smart watches based on the software giant's SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) initiative in hte third quarter, devices that will be tied to the subscription-oriented MSN Direct service. SPOT devices utilise a new .NET-based operating system called TinyCLR, which interacts with special Web-based services using under-utilised portions of the FM radio signal. Initially, watch makers such as Fossil and Suunto will offer SPOT watches, but Microsoft says other companies will be on board soon.

"[SPOT] watches with MSN Direct service offer an entirely new way for people to stay up to date and informed about the information they care about," says Roger Gulrajani, the director for the Smart Personal Objects Technology Group at Microsoft. "With Fossil and Suunto, we have created watches that deliver information with fashion and flair--an important attribute for an accessory people wear every day."

The first batch of SPOT watches will retail for US$100 to US$300, while the MSN Direct service will cost US$59 for a yearly subscription, or US$9.95 a month. MSN Direct will be available in all major US metropolitan areas and in the largest Canadian cities initially, Microsoft says. Using the service, SPOT users will have always on wireless access to the latest weather, sports scores, stock quotes, movies, dining, games and other information, using a fully customizable Web interface to determine which alerts they receive.

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