How high are you? With the Microsoft Band 2...

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(No, not that kind of high...)

David Vescovi, Microsoft MVP and hardware geek extraordinaire, recently blogged about a cool, new and different Microsoft Band 2 app he wrote...

Microsoft Band Altimeter Now for something completely different

The new Microsoft Band 2 incorporates 11 sensor which includes the usual GPS, heart rate, and step sensors needed for health monitoring but also included are some hidden features that make this embedded platform ideal for other activities.

I am not going to get into the reviews, there are plenty of other bloggers out there for that. I do like the fact that is an open platform and you can write your own apps using Microsoft’ s published SDK for the Band 2.

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What sparked my interest was the barometric pressure transducer. Atmospheric pressure is one way of determining altitude and believe it or not it is remarkably accurate. As an avid skydiver, I thought it would be cool to develop an app that mimics my regular altimeter gear I use quite regularly. The pressure measurement technique has several advantages over using say GSP like quick update rates, the ability to zero to AGL (Above Ground Level) and the fact it does not rely on a satellite signal. 

Using the following atmospheric model you can convert from pressure to altitude:

Halt = (1 – ( Psta /1013.25)0.190284 ) X 145366.45

Where Halt  is in feet and pressure is in hectopascals  or millibars.

In C# this equation would look like this:

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I also created a “Pull Altitude” feature you can set. When you pass through this altitude the haptics, or vibration notification, is activated alerting you it is time to pull your ripcord.

Of course this is just a proof of concept now but could be expanded to incorporate more advanced features like total freefall time, freefall speed, opening altitude etc.features found in some of the more advanced (and expensive) skydiving equipment. The other sensors, like the accelerometer and gyro can also be incorporated to calculate things like glide-slope, a parameter of particular interest to the wing-suit skydiving community.

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