Microsoft has reached a licensing deal to share its wearable patents with Casio. The deal, which is awfully mysterious, is similar to the one it signed with boutique smartwatch maker Olio last January.
The agreement includes "broad coverage" for smartwatch technologies, which doesn't tell us much. In a statement provided to Wareable, Micky Minhas, head of Microsoft Technology Licensing, said: "Casio's smartwatches combined with Microsoft's technology will help customers all over the world achieve more from their wearables." Microsoft strikes up a lot of these partnerships for its IP, and it's hard to know exactly what Casio will be taking from it, but it's interesting nonetheless. Especially as this seems to be how Microsoft will continue to stay involved with wearables without a device of its own, after ill-fated Microsoft Band ceased life.
Hands on: Casio WSD-F20 review
What we do know is that Casio has thus far embraced Android Wear, and that the Casio WSD-F20 will be sporting Wear 2.0 when it hits stores this month. We also know that Casio has spent quite a bit of time customizing the Android Wear Casio experience to make it a little more unique, unlike many other smartwatch makers embracing Google's smartwatch OS.
Microsoft has a bunch of wearable patents in operating systems, connectivity, sensors, security, AI and more. It's a buffet of options, and it's likely this agreement allows Casio to use a good deal of them.
But what? Well, if Casio is still going to rely on Android Wear to power its smartwatches then it could use a number of Microsoft patents to help improve its hardware, from sensors in its displays to the way it handles file storage. Microsoft also has patents in connectivity that Casio could take advantage of.
And, of course, Microsoft also has plenty of software patents that Casio could use if it wanted to continue to customize Android Wear for its needs - or even if it decided to one day run with its own OS.