Health

Samsung wants 'SAMI' and 'Simband' to be the start of a new biohealth ecosystem

Samsung laid out its framework today for a new consumer-centered biohealth ecosystem, featuring a new sensor-filled watch (“Simband”) and a cloud platform for storing health data collected by the device.

The ecosystem would be built around a platform called SAMI (Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interaction), which the tech giant says is designed to “sit between devices that collect data, and algorithms in the cloud that analyze that data.”

Samsung says SAMI is like the brain of the new ecosystem and that the more data that health devices collect and deposit there, the better the health insights that medical professionals can mine from it.

The SAMI platform will be open and easily accessible, but at the same time it will provide all of the security that online banks use, said head of digital health Ram Fish at a Samsung event in San Francisco. Samsung stresses that it will not own the data, the user will. Nor will it combine the data with other data sets without the user’s consent, Fish says.

SAMI already contains some basic algorithms to process health data. As the platform amasses data about sleep habits, nutrition, activity, and well-being, it can create a “body score” based on those measurements. During the demo today, Fish showed several days’ worth of his own body scores, expressed as a percentile score out of 100.

Of course, the SAMI platform tracks all of these things over the long term, so users can see the consistency of their sleep cycles and exercise habits, for example. This is exactly the kind of data that should be accessible by doctors and other health care providers, as it could provide valuable context around health problems patients report.

Samsung’s platform is an ambitious undertaking, but with Samsung’s money and high numbers of devices in the wild, it might be a way to unite personal health data in a way that hasn’t been done before.  Most consumer health devices operate separate from a network, collecting and reporting a single set of data, Samsung points out. If that info could be combined and analyzed together, which is what Samsung hopes SAMI will do, the result could be better health insights.

Notably, Samsung has been working with doctors at the University of California San Francisco to work out the (potentially) clinical aspects of SAMI. For SAMI to be truly successful, health care organizations will need to buy into the concept and find ways to use the data.

Samsung’s main announcement today was the reference design of a new health wearable called the “Simband,” which uses a sensor-filled wristband and a large display for monitoring body metrics in real time. The Simband will collect health data from the user and report it up to the SAMI cloud.

The sensors in the band project beams of light into the skin at varying strengths in order to reach tissue near the surface or deeper in. For instance a sensor may aim a beam of light at the strength needed to reach a vein, where it might read pulse rate.

The screen then displays metrics like heart rate and blood pressure in real time; you can see the wave forms moving across the screen in different colors.

Simband sensors casting light into the skin.

Above: Simband sensors casting light into the skin.

Samsung says both the software and the hardware in the Simband reference design are open, meaning that other companies can develop their own biosensor products around the technology.

Samsung says it will release application programming interfaces (APIs), a software developer kit (SDK) later this year. It will also host a developer conference, and even put up $50 million in venture capital for startups that choose to build on the Simband platform.

Samsung hopes that lots of companies will begin producing apps and devices that feed data into the SIMI cloud.