Samsung Electronics' digital health strategy relies on a wrist-bound wearable device with cloud-based data-sharing software that enables third-party development of biosensors and medical mobile apps, the company announced May 28 in San Francisco.
During the company's presentation, Samsung's vice president of digital health, Ram Fish, showed off a wristband displaying several vital signs such as heart rate to the media in attendance, writes Rachel Metz of MIT Technology Review. The device wasn't the main attraction, though. It was the Korean company's Simband hardware platform that "is not a product," Samsung says on its website.
"Developers will be able to access the Simband reference sensor module in its current form, or modify its software, hardware or mechanical set up. Others might even design their own sensors completely from scratch. We began by asking ourselves how can we make each sensing technology more accurate, more resistant to motional defects, and how can we create a platform that others can change and adapt by adding their own sensors, algorithms and software?" Fish said in an explanatory video on the product's website.
The Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions (SAMI) software platform "will allow devices and sensors to securely store data in the cloud regardless of the source's format or structure," Samsung said in a statement. It can collect data from devices or online sources and share it with other devices or apps in real time, the company says on its website.
The announcement comes days before the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, in case you were wondering who Samsung's biggest rival in digital health is going to be. As Time Magazine points out, the open, collaborative nature of Samsung's strategy contrasts with Apple's approach.
Samsung aims to provide the behind-the-scenes hardware and data gathering and sharing software on which others' products will run. The company stressed its hand-offs approach, pointing out that "SAMI will allow data to be controlled by the individual generating it and not by third-parties, so that personal health data can be better protected." A subtle dig at potential rival Facebook perhaps?
Samsung will offer a pilot version of the two platforms later in this year. But it is also focusing on end-user healthcare products for now (and likely in the future too), as evidenced by the debut of its stress monitoring app for the Galaxy S5.
The company also announced that it has created a $50 million fund to invest in promising digital health startups and technologies.