Fri, May 30, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Samsung debuts health data wearable

Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co unveiled a prototype heath-monitoring wristband connected to a cloud-based service, which would allow consumers to share their statistics with developers of new mobile fitness applications.

The company demonstrated its “Simband,” which can measure health indicators like heart rate and blood pressure, at an event on Wednesday in San Francisco. The Internet-based data platform is designed to promote consumer wellness and create a pool of information for digital-health researchers, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said.

“This is the beginning of our journey, the beginning of our platform,” Samsung president and chief strategy officer of device solutions Young Sohn said. “What we need is a community of developers and disruptive technology players to work with us.”

Samsung, dominant in the maturing smartphone market, is now seeking to broaden its technology in wearable devices and is racing to put its stake in the ground in other new consumer technology areas like digital health.

Global sales of smartwatches, glasses and medical products were about US$10 billion last year and are forecast to triple by 2018, according to researcher IHS.

The wristband hardware platform would be open to other manufacturers to develop their own products, in the same way that chipmaker Intel Corp and software maker Microsoft Corp provided components to companies like Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc in the PC industry.

Samsung said it also would create a US$50 million fund to support third-party development for the device.

“The smartphone business is clearly slowing, so they are looking for new areas of growth,” Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “As the world continues to age and there [are] not enough doctors to go around, we are going to increasingly rely on personal health gadgets.”

On the software side, a cloud data service called Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions is to be a repository for information that consumers could opt to share with mobile app developers, and which could deliver software that recommends exercise regimes or diets, among other services.

Samsung rose 1.9 percent to 1,460,000 won in Seoul trading yesterday. The stock has gained 6.4 percent this year, while the benchmark KOSPI is unchanged.

Samsung did not say how much the Simband is to cost or when it might be available to manufacturers.

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