Samsung unveils multisensor processor to move mHealth beyond heart rate tracking

Samsung has unveiled a processor it hopes will become the cornerstone of the next-generation of wearable devices. The chip is designed to gather and process data on body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate and rhythm, skin temperature and stress, setting it up to power devices with capabilities beyond those of the current generation of wearables.

To date, manufacturers of most wearables have limited their devices to the tracking of heart rate, despite reports suggesting Apple ($AAPL) and others had more ambitious plans at times last year. Samsung is tipping 2016 to be the year that starts to change. The South Korean conglomerate's new chip, dubbed a Bio-Processor, is central to this forecast. Samsung has integrated 5 analog front ends into the chip, giving it the ability to oversee bioelectrical impedance analysis, photoplethysmogram, electrocardiogram, skin temperature and galvanic skin response. 

For users, including clinical trial sponsors, this means devices capable of tracking changes in body fat, skeletal muscle mass, heart rate and rhythm, skin temperature and stress will soon be available. "Samsung's Bio-Processor, which can process five different biometric signals, is the most versatile health and fitness monitoring chip available on the market today and is expected to open up many new health-based service options for our customers," Ben Hur, a VP of marketing at Samsung, said in a statement.

Samsung expects devices housing the chip to come to market in the first half of the year. The company's own wearables are likely to be among the first products to use the processor, but in the longer term Samsung is hoping other manufacturers will build the chip into their devices. With this in mind, Samsung has put together examples of how the chip can fit into wristbands, patches and other types of wearable as demonstrations for potential clients. The designs showcase Samsung's belief that by building multiple capabilities into one chip, it can enable the creation of smaller wearables. 

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