1. Jcmg62's Avatar
    I've been wearing my band for a week now, its totally awesome to see this picture its building up of me, the exercise and sleep data is highly insightful.

    But there's one sensors function I can't figure out: The galvanic skin sensor

    So far as I can tell all the chart/graph feedback and numbers collated on the health app are centred around only two things; heart rate and movement. So that explains the heart sensor and gyroscope.

    As to the other sensors (UV, sound, gps, ambient light) are all fairly self explanatory.

    According to the MS website, the gsr tells the band when its being worn....? I don't get that. Surely the heart monitor and gyroscope would also act to tell the band that the owner has clipped it on and is now actively using the band. Surely a whole sensor can't be dedicated to just saying "yip, I'm on the wrist and being useful now"

    I guess my questions are what does gsr actually measure and can that data be turned into useful everyday user feedback?

    A more blue sky question would be; is this a sensor Microsoft hasn't really turned fully on? Are there insightful graphs waiting to be launched in future versions of the health platform?
    04-24-2015 12:36 AM
  2. hotphil's Avatar
    I read something about it being used to indicate the wearer's hydration level.
    Jcmg62 and gadgetrants like this.
    04-24-2015 12:43 AM
  3. argenys's Avatar
    I'm not an expert, but from what I remember it measures the electrical current in your skin. So in the future it can measure changes in your mood(although im not sure if its possible to detect which mood) but more practically it measures how much you're sweating which with heart rate and skin temperature can give an even more accurate reading of calories/fat burned, the sensor also measures stress/anxiety. But its hard to get what is normal per a specific person just because someone is the same gender, age, weight, and height; doesn't mean they would have the same readings. So I gather Microsoft is silently collecting this data to make better sense of it, and/or is collecting a certain amount of data(a month's worth?) to get a good reading on a per person basis. Also maybe the software isn't fully ready to be deployed so it's just not being used even to collect data, everything I mention has not been fact checked and I do not have insights into what Microsoft is doing/has planned.
    Jcmg62, Steveandre13 and Hoekie like this.
    04-24-2015 12:48 AM
  4. hotphil's Avatar
    Exactly that - it's the analytics behind the device that make Band interesting, not the sensors/device itself.
    Jcmg62 likes this.
    04-24-2015 01:59 AM
  5. Jcmg62's Avatar
    I'm not an expert, but from what I remember it measures the electrical current in your skin. So in the future it can measure changes in your mood(although im not sure if its possible to detect which mood) but more practically it measures how much you're sweating which with heart rate and skin temperature can give an even more accurate reading of calories/fat burned, the sensor also measures stress/anxiety. But its hard to get what is normal per a specific person just because someone is the same gender, age, weight, and height; doesn't mean they would have the same readings. So I gather Microsoft is silently collecting this data to make better sense of it, and/or is collecting a certain amount of data(a month's worth?) to get a good reading on a per person basis. Also maybe the software isn't fully ready to be deployed so it's just not being used even to collect data, everything I mention has not been fact checked and I do not have insights into what Microsoft is doing/has planned.
    I like your response. It ties in with some earlier articles back in late 2014 when someone had said that one day the band would be capable of scanning your diary, seeing you have an upcoming meeting with your boss and actually tracking your vitals in the run up to that meeting and haptically (through the vibration mechanism) reminding you to remain calm and take deep breaths. All the article said was that this level of tracking would be done through the heart monitor and "other sensors" on the band.

    I think for now it's still very much in a beta state and a lot of the actual sensory feedback just hasn't been deployed yet.

    It would also be amazing if it could measure hydration levels....that would be data well worth having in the gym.

    **I agree Phil, it's absolutely the analytical data we're seeing that makes the band noteworthy......the band itself is a bit...meh. Especially after a week of wearing it, you kinda forget its even there**
    04-24-2015 04:30 AM
  6. hotphil's Avatar
    It's a much under-rated and misunderstood concept, I think.
    MS once again come up with innovative concepts and then even manage to get lost on the way to the back of the queue for the "most sucked at marketing" awards.
    If their work isn't to go the way of so many other good intentions, there needs to be more physical devices (ones that look less like a tracking device for an offender would be good) and to be available in more territories.
    Otherwise it'll be too late - Apple will launch some kind of sparkly poor imitation with less features for more money and wrap-up the market.

    ​Oh wait.

    Good to see MS not wanting to break the historical pattern.

    crazy.jpg
    04-24-2015 04:52 AM
  7. Jcmg62's Avatar
    Bwahahahahahaaaaa....trufax Phil :)

    That said, I kinda like the look of the Band....I'm not one for sparkle and bling, I much prefer form and functionality over aesthetics, however I agree it wouldn't hurt for MS to maybe go for at least couple of colour conceps, maybe white, green, purple or yellow rather than just plain black.

    As much as it pains me to throw a compliment in their direction, lets face it, no one markets product better than Apple. Even when they totally screw it up (the watch launch date has moved a thousand times and 99% of store staff totally wrecked the experience for a lot of enthusiasts because they didn't know how the watch worked) they still manage to shift millions of units in the space of a few days.

    Apple could polish a turd, stick their logo on it, hold it up to the light and get a million people wanting one within an hour.
    realwarder likes this.
    04-24-2015 05:26 AM
  8. realwarder's Avatar
    The Band is a public test bed for health sensors. I suspect the galvanic skin sensor proved too unreliable in initial testing or they are still building stats on the readings to be able to make use of it. Being electrical it relies on good skin contact, which when people wear the band a little loosely just doesn't happen constantly and reliably. I can't be the only one who loosens the band when not exercising and tightens it if it's flopping around too much.

    That's my guess anyway. As I said, perhaps something will come from it later. Great thing about hardware these days is you can update firmware to extract more from a device or refine it over time if you stuff a bunch of sensors in up front.
    gadgetrants and Hoekie like this.
    04-24-2015 07:58 AM
  9. DrFix82's Avatar
    Ok, it could be a test.
    But when someone buys it thinks of a complete product, not a beta test. The official specs says galvanic sensor, skin temperature etc... I expected them to be available from the beginning...
    04-24-2015 08:47 AM
  10. realwarder's Avatar
    Ok, it could be a test.
    But when someone buys it thinks of a complete product, not a beta test. The official specs says galvanic sensor, skin temperature etc... I expected them to be available from the beginning...
    I believe the developer API which some apps use exposes the data and so it is available to you indirectly just not shown in the health app. Perhaps one day when it makes sense too, it will be there too.
    04-24-2015 09:06 AM
  11. slyronit's Avatar
    Right now the skin sensor is only used to detect whether you're wearing the band or not.

    Not sure how useful skin temperature sensor data would be, considering that the skin temperature fluctuates throughout the day and is not an indication of your core temperature.
    04-24-2015 09:22 AM
  12. stephen_az's Avatar
    I like your response. It ties in with some earlier articles back in late 2014 when someone had said that one day the band would be capable of scanning your diary, seeing you have an upcoming meeting with your boss and actually tracking your vitals in the run up to that meeting and haptically (through the vibration mechanism) reminding you to remain calm and take deep breaths. All the article said was that this level of tracking would be done through the heart monitor and "other sensors" on the band.

    I think for now it's still very much in a beta state and a lot of the actual sensory feedback just hasn't been deployed yet.

    It would also be amazing if it could measure hydration levels....that would be data well worth having in the gym.

    **I agree Phil, it's absolutely the analytical data we're seeing that makes the band noteworthy......the band itself is a bit...meh. Especially after a week of wearing it, you kinda forget its even there**
    You can agree with someone but that doesn't make either of you correct. Your last statement is simply logically flawed as is his that preceded it. There are no analytical data to be made noteworthy without the sensors in the Band; therefore, I think that makes the device a bit more important. As for what galvanic skin response means, I am a bit confused by the question since 1) there has long been stuff on the Microsoft Band site about it and 2) searching for it online explains the relevance in a technical sense. Last, but not least, it is not a beta product. It does exactly what they billed at launch (and does so quite well) but they designed it with additional potential that will be exploited over time,. Is your PC a beta because the OS has had features added since release?
    Hoekie likes this.
    04-24-2015 09:59 AM
  13. stephen_az's Avatar
    Ok, it could be a test.
    But when someone buys it thinks of a complete product, not a beta test. The official specs says galvanic sensor, skin temperature etc... I expected them to be available from the beginning...
    So I guess you have never bought a PC or tablet or smartphone? That must make accessing this site rather novel. Doing some sort of psychic interface? I think you will find that, regardless of OS, functions have been added to all over time. You will also find that hardware components with little functionality may have been in your device on release date (BT 4.0 was meaningless until products were released that used the new standard). BT is only one example since that is more of a rule in the tech world. You are not being forced into a beta test by having features added. You are getting additional features. In another era, the appropriate response would be thank you but that seems to be lost in the 21st century. As for expecting "them to be available from the beginning" you didn't read very closely since that is not what they said. There is nothing surprising about anything that has gone on since release when viewed in the context of their statements.
    04-24-2015 10:14 AM
  14. DrFix82's Avatar
    So I guess you have never bought a PC or tablet or smartphone? That must make accessing this site rather novel. Doing some sort of psychic interface? I think you will find that, regardless of OS, functions have been added to all over time. You will also find that hardware components with little functionality may have been in your device on release date (BT 4.0 was meaningless until products were released that used the new standard). BT is only one example since that is more of a rule in the tech world. You are not being forced into a beta test by having features added. You are getting additional features. In another era, the appropriate response would be thank you but that seems to be lost in the 21st century. As for expecting "them to be available from the beginning" you didn't read very closely since that is not what they said. There is nothing surprising about anything that has gone on since release when viewed in the context of their statements.
    I totally disagree.
    When I buy a PC with a bluetooth I can use it, it has wifi and I can connect with it, a fingerprint sensor that I can use for login.
    All the devices are usable out the box.

    Now, I want to see my skin temperature (since it has the sensor), but I cannot not way (I'm android user, so no unofficial apps here).
    I want to see my stress level... mm ... I cannot.

    It's like having a laptop with bluetooth but no drivers. Well, the device actually has it (specs met), but totally useless.
    04-24-2015 10:17 AM
  15. gadgetrants's Avatar
    The Band is a public test bed for health sensors. I suspect the galvanic skin sensor proved too unreliable in initial testing or they are still building stats on the readings to be able to make use of it.
    This is a great guess, and I think it highlights an important question: it's not clear if we have the "cart and the horse" mixed up. I suspect we all assume that Microsoft engineers were sitting around a table, working on Band prototypes, and someone said "can we fit a GSR sensor in there? Imagine what we could do with it!" But it could be exactly the other way around...given the large number of activity trackers on the market, and the likelihood that most (if not all) are being manufactured by a relatively small number of contractors (I did a bit of searching but didn't find where it's assembled), maybe it was the (Chinese?) assembly plant that said, "Oh by the way we have room for a GSR sensor in there if you're interested."

    EDIT: just checked the box and yep, "Made in China".

    So the idea that it's there "to detect if the Band is being worn" feels a bit made up after-the-fact to me. I also think the idea that it could be used for the insight, "Your last two meetings with Bill caused quite a bit of stress" is a bit pie-in-the-sky. I think they're very much still trying to figure out what to do with it, and whether they can get stable readings from it.

    tl;dr I would guess that the GSR sensor was included because it was cheap and it worked. And MS development told their engineers, "Give marketing some kind of story about how we'll use the GSR readings." Honestly, I'll be surprised if anything meaningful comes out of it.

    ​-Matt
    Last edited by gadgetrants; 04-25-2015 at 12:42 PM.
    04-24-2015 10:51 AM
  16. Jcmg62's Avatar
    Excellent reading, all very interesting points; thanks for your input one and all :)

    From my side, I'm just looking forward to seeing the band extend its capabilities over the next few months. It's a cool journey to be on
    gadgetrants and Hoekie like this.
    04-24-2015 11:55 AM
  17. DroidUser42's Avatar
    Right now the skin sensor is only used to detect whether you're wearing the band or not.

    Not sure how useful skin temperature sensor data would be, considering that the skin temperature fluctuates throughout the day and is not an indication of your core temperature.
    Correct. It's not much use - now. But with "big data" crunching numbers in the background, I'm not sure as it's totally useless. I think the Band is a mass-research device for MS as much as anything else. Maybe it is useless - then again, maybe they'll find that if they correlate it with other things, it is useful. For example, skin temperature and resistance if correlated with motion and HR, it might be able to warn of heatstroke and tell you to slow down and get some water.
    Jcmg62 likes this.
    04-24-2015 04:06 PM

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