At a press event in San Francisco, the world's biggest handset maker
announced Simband, a new "investigational" device that can be used
to measure body temperature, blood oxygen levels, motion and other
metrics on a continuous basis.
The prototype "smart" band is not intended to be sold as is but
serve as a "foundation" for third party developers to build a device
that incorporates "optical, acoustic and electronic sensors,"
Samsung's vice president of digital health Ram Fish said.
"We want to bring in talent from the outside," said Young Sohn,
president and chief strategy officer for Samsung Electronics' Device
Samsung unveiled the Simband at a time when Apple Inc is said to be
developing its own wrist device to compete in the wearable
Executives for the Korean company said Simband features a shuttle
battery, which charges when the wearer is inactive, and is equipped
with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The device was developed in concert with researchers from
Belgium-based IMEC and the University of California San Francisco.
This new platform goes hand-in-hand with Samsung Architecture
Multimodal Interactions ("SAMI"), a "bank" to store sensitive health
data on the Galaxy S devices. The goal for SAMI is to gather data
from various health and fitness applications, and offer "insights"
to consumers, Samsung said.
"Samsung doesn't own the data, you do," said Fish. "We are a
custodian of it."
Samsung plans to market SAMI by hosting a developer challenge and
setting aside a $50 million fund for early-stage digital health
entrepreneurs. Sohn said the company has already begun investing,
recently providing funding to an early-stage entrepreneur building a
noninvasive glucose monitoring solution.
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The company has struggled to woo developers in recent years, notably
with Tizen, its operating system that competes with Google Inc.
Samsung may fail to gain much traction with wearable device makers,
Sohn declined to comment on Apple, which is rumored to be building
its own wearable iWatch.
Samsung's announcement could be seen as a preemptive move, with
Apple hosting its much-anticipated developer conference in less than
Samsung plans to provide more specific information about both new
platforms at its own developer conference, which is expected to take
place in November. Sohn said the research and development teams are
already exploring "locations" for wearable devices other than the
(Reporting By Christina Farr; editing by Andrew Hay)
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