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Samsung Unveils Simband Fitness Tracker, Digital Health Initiative

Samsung Simband

Samsung Simband

Not content to stop at fitness bands and smartphones with heart monitors, Samsung today showed off a new prototype wrist monitor while announcing a new cloud-based health data service that aggregates all your readings from different devices. At an event in San Francisco, the Korean tech giant talked about its desire to create an open platform for digital health information that doctors, developers and patients can all take advantage of.

Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (SAMI), will be a cloud-based open software platform, where a variety of devices and sensors can securely store data. Developers and scientists can then create algorithms to analyze the data, and find new insights, Samsung says. The personal data stored in SAMI will still be owned by the individual and is totally secure, like money in bank.

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SAMI will allow your many health and environmental sensors to collaborate in the cloud. Your fitness tracker usually can't communicate with your thermostat, but through SAMI, developers could design an app that turns the temperature down when you come back from a run, Samsung said.

"We want to provide a platform to accelerate the speed of innovation," Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer at Samsung, said at the event.

The company also showed off a wearable wristband called Simband, which is intended to serve as a reference design for future devices rather a shipping product. It is designed in sections, or modules, so that other companies can integrate their own sensors. The open platform will allow for the inclusion of sensors that haven't even been imagined yet, said Ram Fish, vice president of digital health at Samsung.

Samsung Simband

Samsung Simband

Future Simband sensors could include a PPG sensor to measures changes in blood flow, and monitor vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, and an ECG sensor to monitor the rate and regularity of the heartbeat. Fish demonstrated how a Simband prototype could continuously monitor heart rate and other vital signs.

The Simband can be charged with a "shuttle battery" that is attached, and charges while the user wears the device, Fish said.

Samsung has partnered with the University of California, San Francisco to work on validating the technologies and algorithms that come out of the project, to ensure that the technology is accurate, and that healthcare professions feel they can rely on the devices, said Dr. Michael Blum, associate vice chancellor for informatics at UCSF.

"This is a really exciting time for the medical community to engage with Silicon Valley," Blum said. "We can collect massive new datasets" to develop new understandings about how our bodies work, he said.

Samsung said that the beta APIs for SAMI would be ready by the end of the year.

Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. FollowLive Science @livescience, Facebook&Google+. Original article on Live Science.