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Samsung announces Simband reference health monitor platform, beats Apple to the punch

Tom Morgan
29 May 2014
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Samsung announced SimBand, a reference design for future heath monitors and exercise trackers, at an event last night - beating Apple's iWatch to the punch

Samsung's "Voice of the Body" event in San Francisco last night was rumoured to mark the launch of a more health-centric wearable gadget, in order to take some of the shine away from Apple's expected iwatch reveal at WWDC next month. Instead of a replacement for the Gear 2 smartwatch, however, Samsung instead announced SimBand - a developmental reference design that won't actually be making it's way to the public.

Instead, SimBand represents a push towards more useful health monitoring, rather than the generic heart rate and accelerometer readings built into most smart watches and exercise trackers. It monitors in real time, rather than at set intervals, and uses a range of optical, electrical and light-based sensors to measure body temperature, blood flow, respiration, hydration levels, and even glucose concentrations in the blood.

Rather than use a fixed set of sensors, SimBand is entirely modular. The sensor unit can be removed and replaced, which will allow developers to build their own bespoke sensors in order to measure specific metrics, and ensure the device itself isn't made obsolete by changing technology.

As the device is meant to be worn 24/7 in order to continuously monitor your vitals, Samsung designed a clip-on battery charger. Rather than tether yourself to a power outlet, users are able to take the battery pack with them and refuel the band on the move.

SimBand is only half the story, however; Samsung also used the event to introduce the Samsung Architecture Multimedia Interactions platform, otherwise known as SAMI. The cloud-based service takes all the data collected by the SimBand and would make it available to researchers, healthcare professionals and medical scholars in order to help improve fitness on a large scale. Samsung promised that user data would remain secure and that permission would be needed to allow third party access.

SimBand has integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to automatically transfer data to SAMI, most likely through a smartphone, although Samsung has yet to go into specifics.

Simband

In order to encourage adoption by developers and health professionals, Samsung will be introducing a $50 million fund that would reward anyone taking part in the company's Digital Health challenge. Beta versions of both Simband and the SAMI APIs will be made available by the end of the year.

The announcement seems deliberately timed to draw attention away from Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), where the iWatch wearable is expected to be revealed. The company has hired several prominent healthcare professionals in the past and it is understood the iWatch will be firmly focussed on fitness and wellbeing.

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