Although Apple’s iWatch has yet to see the light of day, the building anticipation of a new digital health breakthrough product seems to be having an effect on competitors, namely Samsung. The company unveiled yet another digital health focused wearable device this week, and this time it packs a significant punch.
During its Voice of the Body event in San Francisco, Samsung president Young Sohn introduced the companies new digital health focused smartwatch. Called Simband, Samsung was careful to preface that the device is still just a prototype, but the innovations contained within offer a glimpse into some of the digital health technologies Samsung is pushing for.
Simband is a wrist-worn digital health monitor that Samsung hopes will eventually mature to the point of being able to passively monitor health conditions in real time, provide real time wellness coaching, and alert users of physical changes that suggest they should head to the ER. To do this, Samsung reports that it is working on sensors that will monitor hydration levels, blood pressure, blood glucose (non-invasively), along with the more pedestrian activity tracking metrics such as daily caloric burn, and sleep patterns. To accelerate sensor innovation, Samsung has designed Simband to be modular, leaving space for 3rd party developers to create add-on sensors that can clip into the wristband and utilize its battery, display, and other sensors. By taking a collaborative approach, Samsung hopes to concentrate the efforts of health sensor engineers on its consumer device.
Samsung continued its theme of open digital health collaboration by announcing that Simband would house all of its analytics power in a cloud-based open platform called SAMI, or Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interaction. The Samsung Simband will push its raw data to the SAMI cloud, where wellness scores and other analytics will be applied and resulting alerts will be sent back to the device. The SAMI platform will also collect data from other devices, acting as a central repository for digital health data. Samsung is inviting clinicians, researchers, and software engineers to contribute to the growth of digital health by working on new algorithms within this ecosystem. Thus far, Samsung is working with doctors at the University of California San Francisco to help establish some of the foundation analytics within SAMI.
Samsung clearly hopes that its new open digital health wearable device and cloud platform will become the premier digital health ecosystem, buffering some of the anticipated effect that the iWatch will have on overall wearables sales. To help ensure that the much needed developers do embrace the new ecosystem, Samsung also announced a $50 million venture capital fund that it has setup to fund startups working on sensors, apps, or analytics within the Simband and SAMI ecosystem.
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