Samsung offers a pulse check on health tech strategy

Summary:The chief strategy officer of Samsung Electronics defined the intersection of health and tech as the single greatest opportunity of our generation.

SAN FRANCISCO---Promising "a new conversation around the future of health is about to begin," Samsung peeled back the curtain on its health tech strategy.

Read also: CNET's blog of the Samsung health tech event

Speaking during an invite-only event at the translucent new SFJAZZ Center, Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer for Samsung Electronics, said the Galaxy device maker has been aiming to figure out how to converge IT technology with health awareness.

Defining it as the "single greatest opportunity of our generation," Sohn outlined Samsung's vision for the consumer adoption of digital health technology.

This particular initiative stems from Samsung's Strategy and Innovation Center (SSIC),   a Silicon Valley-located hub established in 2013  to discover, in a paraphrase of the tech giant's tag line, the next big things along the lines of connected systems and the Internet-of-Everything.

Citing a composite of stats from the CDC, the World Health Organization and Census.gov, Sohn noted that healthcare costs total more than $6.5 trillion annually, which he suggested will only grow as 1.2 billion people are projected to be over the age of 60 by 2025.

Sohn remarked, "We should be able to know more about us, not just waiting until the last minute when seeing a doctor."

Quite simply, Sohn summed up "we can do more" to address healthcare now, starting with "combining the advancement of what we have seen in mobile technology" with hardware, sensors, algorithms, behavioral science, big data, and the cloud.

Acknowledging plenty of concerns right out of the gate from accuracy to security, Sohn revealed Samsung's efforts to build an advanced modular sensor platform that can accelerate the innovations for connected devices.

The modular sensor platform goes hand-in-hand with Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions (SAMI), a cloud-based sensor data platform set up to translate all of that unstructured data coming from the sensors into contextual insights.

Ram Fish, vice president of digital health at Samsung Electronics, posited that once we are all working from a common platform, the aforementioned hurdles will become easier to surpass while also clearing the time-to-market path faster.

Simband is equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to push data to the cloud, in effect supporting Samsung's master plan to establish a new "voice of the body."

After pointing toward an outline of the human body, Fish argued there is only "one location" for a "great, truly wearable wearable."

He then unveiled a pair of new prototype technologies: the Simband open reference sensor module followed by the sleek Simband wristband itself, already displaying vitals such as heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure in real-time.

The modular design is built for customization with a standard electrical and mechanical interface covered by a secure communication link.

Simband is equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to push data to the cloud, in effect supporting Samsung's master plan to establish a new "voice of the body."

"In the end, it's all about data," quipped Dr. Luc Julia, vice president of innovation at Samsung Electronics.

Julia characterized SAMI as an "agnostic data broker," or a bank that stores and secures data, promising that users themselves are the exclusive owners of that data with the sole power to grant access.

"Today the devices we know only capture data in their own silos. They are not combined with any other information," Julia lamented.

But SAMI, he continued, offers the possibility of "cross-fertilization of silos" through products such as the Simband SDK and a set of open APIs available to anyone for frictionless data synthesis and predictive analytics. These APIs are scheduled to roll out by the end of 2014.

The SSIC also tapped the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Digital Health Innovation to validate its wearable and healthcare technology to ensure the platforms are both accurate and actionable.

Nevertheless, Sohn stressed that this strategy is not just about promoting Samsung-branded gadgets, emphasizing his interest in the next era of wearable sensors.

Sohn remarked, "We should be able to know more about us, not just waiting until the last minute when seeing a doctor."

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Health, Samsung, Smartphones

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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