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Microsoft planning a smart watch of its own

Apple iWatch artist's illustration

Antonio De Rosa's photo-realistic concept could be a good approximation of what to expect from an Apple iWatch. (ADR Studios/Antonio De Rosa)

Microsoft is working on designs for a touch-enabled watch device, executives at suppliers said, potentially joining rivals like Apple in working on a new class of computing products.

Earlier this year, Microsoft asked suppliers in Asia to ship components for a potential watch-style device, the executives said. One executive said he met with Microsoft's research and development team at the software company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. But it's unclear whether Microsoft will opt to move ahead with the watch, they said.

'A smart watch that's compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers.'

- RBS analyst Wanli Wang

Microsoft declined to comment.

Some investors and big technology companies are betting on a boom in wearable, computerized devices built around the growing power and slimming size of sensors that can detect body temperature, geographic location and voice commands of people on the go.

Some of the new wearable gadgets, like Nike's FuelBand, measure physical activity, while others are intended to supplement functions of a smartphone, such as receiving text messages, taking photos or checking the weather. Apple has also experimented with designs for a wristwatch-style device, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year.

"We see growing demand for wearable gadgets as the size of the smartphone has become too big to carry around," said RBS analyst Wanli Wang. "A smart watch that is compatible with a smartphone and other electronics devices would be attractive to consumers."

Read more about Microsoft's plans at The Wall Street Journal.

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