Samsung has provided its vision for the future of wearable health devices by unveiling a hardware reference design called Simband. This fitness device concept would be underpinned by a new cloud-based platform called Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (SAMI).
In an interesting piece of timing, the announcement comes just days before WWDC, where Apple’s is rumored to be unveiling an iOS app dubbed Healthbook that tracks various fitness and health data (and possibly some new hardware too).
As a reference design, the Simband isn't a product, but is intended to provide a direction for future cloud-based health monitoring devices ... think Gear Fit, with much more advanced sensors.
Samsung is aiming for an open ecosystem that will allow partner companies to design and integrate their own sensor technology and, through the SAMI platform, develop applications and algorithms for wearables.
The compnay has partnered with the biosensing institution Imec to develop the open reference modular design. Prototypes have been given to a select set of partners and full availability of the Simband reference design for developers is expected before the end of the year.
The sensor module will be placed on the band of the device allowing direct contact with the anterior part of the wrist. Information from the sensors will be displayed on a smartwatch-style dashboard and sent wirelessly to other devices via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
"The sensor module allows different sets of sensors to be integrated into a wearable form factor," according to the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Centre. "The open module will be available to the entire technology and medical communities and we encourage these communities to develop new sensors and algorithms for the platform."
Potential sensors hinted at by Samsung include:
- Multiple photoplethysmogram (PPG) – uses light to measure blood pressure and heart rate
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – measure rate and regularity of heartbeat, also capable of giving blood pressure estimate
- Bioimpedance – can measure blood flow and body fat
- Galvanic skin response (GSR) – measures the electrical conductivity of the skin to monitor stress levels
- Temperature – using a set of algorithms Simband will estimate core body temperature, useful in monitoring calorie burn
The goal is to allow 24/7 health monitoring and the reference design also proposes a new type of magnetic battery charger that could be clipped onto the device while the wearer sleeps, without having to remove it.
Meanwhile, the SAMI platform is designed to allow data captured by Simband-based devices to upload data to the cloud, where developers will be able to access it so as to develop new applications and provide visualization of the data based on different contexts, such as user location, behavior and environment.