Samsung Launches SAMI, Showcases Simband Hardware


Nearly six months after announcing that it would be building a digital health ecosystem, Samsung today unveiled the a working prototype of its newest activity tracker, Simband. The company also formally launched its accompanying health data aggregator service, SAMI. The unveil took place at a Samsung developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday where Samsung VP of digital health Ram Fish took the stage to unveil the the device and announce the immediate availability of the SAMI software developer kit for third party programmers.

Samsung is building its digital health ecosystem by following what is now becoming the industry standard strategy: build a fitness tracker with consumer appeal and connect it to a health data aggregator service that has APIs for third party developers. This model was pioneered by Apple when it launched the Apple Watch and HealthKit, and was subsequently repeated by Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Differentiating Samsung thus far is that it is taking an interesting, albeit slower, approach to its fitness tracker. The Simband device is an open design concept, meaning that third party developers will be able to design clip-in sensor modules that will allow them to create activity trackers with sensors capable of tracking anything they wish, and the data from those sensors will flow seamlessly through the Simband device and to the SAMI data hub. The model that was demonstrated at the developer conference was modeled after the Samsung Gear S, and the sensor module, housed in the wrist band, held an accelerometer along with sensors capable of capturing: skin temperature, perspiration levels, pulse oximetry, ECG, and bio-impedance which is used to calculate body fat composition. Interestingly, Samsung has yet to confirm whether the company intends to sell its own Simband model, or if it will leave it to third party developers to design their own. Clearly, by pushing the hardware design onto third party developers, Samsung is hoping to create a digital health ecosystem with hardware options that will be as diverse as their already diverse digital health app options. It remains to be seen whether Samsung’s third party developers, who typically only have to focus on app development, will follow Samsung’s lead and jump into hardware design.

For now Samsung, like Apple, is trying to generate buzz and credibility for its digital health initiative, which the company approached by announcing some high profile partnerships during the event. Partnerships included insurers Aetna, Cigna, and provider group Humana. Kaiser Permanente is also working with Samsung to help ensure that the data being generated by the digital health ecosystem is of value to the medical community.

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