Samsung is opening up its health platform to developers

Samsung took its next step toward connected health at its developer conference in San Francisco Wednesday by opening up its Simband reference platform to developers, giving them access to sensor data and letting them build their own devices with access to the SAMI cloud health platform. Ram Fish, Samsung VP of digital health, argued that open platforms will be essential to cracking digital health. “We will not succeed if we do it alone,” he said. “Innovation, especially disruptive innovation, will not come from one single company.”


Samsung previewed its Health initiatives earlier this year when it introduced SAMI and the Simband at a press event in San Francisco. Since then, the company has been working with a small group of partners to build first apps based on SAMI. One demoed at the conference Wednesday was a connected tennis racket from a company called Babolat.


What’s interesting about Samsung’s approach is that the company is developing digital health on two tracks — one for research institutions and one for commercial applications. Won-Pyo Hong, Samsung’s Media Solutions Center president, touted the commercial opportunity for both Samsung and its partners during Wednesday’s keynote, saying that countries will, on average, spend 5.3 percent of their GDP on health in 2017, compared to just 1.9 percent in 2012. However, much of the emphasis Wednesday was on research partnerships, and the company shared few new details on well-known partners.

One company that did join Samsung for the digital health part of the keynote was insurance giant Kaiser, whose CMIO Dr. John Mattison told the audience that many diseases can be addressed by simple lifestyle changes. However, he argued that most of today’s fitness trackers miss the point. “Digital nannies is not what we need,” he said. Instead, he suggested that people should ignore their fitness trackers for a few days, disregard the numbers and instead take a closer look at their environment to choose the stairs over the elevator. The end goal, Mattison argued, is to bring data to consumers in a way that allows them to take action instead of just being focused on isolated metrics.