SPOT Watches to Debut This Fall

In an effort to prepare for the public launch of its Smart Personal Objects Technology initiative, Microsoft has announced a new wireless service that will deliver information to SPOT-enabled devices. Called MSN Direct, the service is currently being tested in eight cities and will eventually reach more than 100 cities across the United States and Canada.

Watches will serve as the first SPOT devices, which are capable of receiving real-time information such as news, weather, sports, stock quotes and more. The watches will also be able to access dining information, movie listings and even play games. Calendar appointment reminders from Outlook will be available and messages can be sent to SPOT users via MSN Messenger.

Fossil and Suunto will release the first such SPOT watches this fall. On top of the $100 to $300 USD watch pricing, MSN Direct will run SPOT users $9.95 USD per month, or $59 USD per year.

"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," said Roger Gulrajani, director of Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology Group.

SPOT made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year. Microsoft showcased potential uses of the technology with prototype watches and other SPOT devices such as alarm clocks and key chains.

But early critics balked at the size of the SPOT watches, which were much larger than conventional time pieces. The devices run a subset of the .NET Compact Framework and include a radio receiver to communicate with Microsoft's nationwide FM network.

Microsoft has since strived to reduce the size of SPOT watches and retain an aesthetic consumers will enjoy. "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," said Gulrajani.

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