Samsung takes S Health centre stage at Galaxy S4 launch

Samsung S Health on the GS4

Last night “Samsung UNPACKED 2013 Episode 1” was held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and saw the world’s biggest mobile and smartphone manufacturer lifting the lid on their latest flagship smartphone – the 5in Galaxy S4 set to hit UK shelves from the 26th April.

Setting new smartphone benchmarks the 130g device packs the latest version of 4.2.2 Jelly Bean Android OS running on a 5” Full HD Super Amoled Display with 441 pixels per inch, with a big battery (up from the GS3’s 2,100mAh to 2,600mA) and camera upgrades (front is now 2mp with 720p video and rear is up to 13mp with autofocus).

It’s quite obvious that such a powerful new device will support some quite transformational mHealth opportunities (Will Samsung’s Smart Scroll turn the world upside down for mHealth Regulators?) and it was great to notice that Samsung kept the S Health announcement for the finale of the presentation.

S Health via device foused message

The Galaxy S4’s numerous sensors track the amount of exercise you get and can calculate your calorie consumption so you can get healthier and make better decisions it’s one of the new features that truly makes the Samsung S4 a companion for life… …it can tell how many calories I’ve burned off walking throughout my day, I love it! … …but what if you’re walking while eating cheesecake?… …You’re only cheating yourself deedee!… …and with accessories like S Band, BodyScale and heart rate monitor S Health gathers information about Sleep Patterns, Heart Rate, Exercise and Weight… …darn it!… …And if it’s right for you you can get accessories that will connect with your phone and monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure levels and as well as save that data… …my mother always dreamed I’d end up with a Doctor. I bet she didn’t imagine this?!… …The Galaxy S4 is never a replacement for a Doctor Kelly… …You’re such a party pooper… …But it’s definitely a handy supplement and with total reports it collects all of your data and turns it into an easy to read report… …Thank you Ryan and a Doctor doesn’t come in a variety of attractive cases and different styles and colours…

Some key new opportunities I see this device and the software it packs opening up for the mHealth market:


Still nowhere near Nokias

Camera boosts are always very positive for patients sharing images with remote carers so although Samsung hasn’t hit Nokia’s records (remember their 43 MP camera!) it’s very welcome especially the front camera gains (a big plus for P2P video calling)

Samsung KNOX

Samsung KNOX

Ensuring BlackBerry doesn’t steal a lead with their BlackBerry Balance solution that creates a securely partitioned device was a very smart move from Samsung.

This feature is critical to any mHealth innovation based on Healthcare Workers bringing their own device (BYOD) to work. Without this it’s a piece of cake for Healthcare IT leaders to restrict/discourage this important driver of innovation from happening as they simply point out to the clinician that all their private SMS, photos etc would be discoverable if they are made using the same device socially that they are using for work.

A siloed approach prevents this being an issue as the software ensures the device is regarded by regulators etc as two separate devices.

S Voice Drive

S Voice Drive

I get the impression this is approaching the Doro Experience from a very different angle that should be very interesting as we look to expand access to smart devices via more user friendly user experiences.

Works with gloves

This feature has been seen on the capacitive touch screen of the Nokia 920 before and it’s great to see Samsung are bringing it to their devices as many of today’s touch screens are challenging for elderly or patients to use because they lack fingertip conductivity due to hard dry skin.

Humidity/Temp sensors

Any additional sensory capacity opens up the possibility of new services but I’m really excited at the mHealth possibilities this will open up for healthcare service providers. Here’s a few I can think of:

> Temperature extremes and dehydration commonly lead avoidable healthcare expenditure and huge death tolls eg. in the European heatwave in 2003 led to 70,000 deaths. Twinned with a drink water reminder app I can see this saving lives – especially as it edges down into feature and then easy/senior mobiles.


> Monitoring of Patients who have chronic conditions that are effected by climate. All too often a lot of this goes unnoticed because until now we simply had no means of easily gathering this data reliably but can you imagine this data being used to understand better triggers for epilepsy or asthma (via mobile connected inhalers) or pain in patients with arthritis?

> Monitoring of those who are living independently. Imagine the British Gas/Bord Gáis app that helped the energy company better understand customer needs and alert their response teams in the event of a boiler break down?

> Optimisation of living environments eg. by twinning the data from these sensors with your mobile connected thermostat/HVAC system (see Nest) and sleep monitor you might be able to regulate the temperature of a bedroom for example so that it drops a few degrees overnight to help you sleep better but rises a little to give you an extra boost when waking up?

> Identification of draughts and the need for ventilation/a humidifer: While it’s not going to be close to a IR camera I can also see opportunities for this to help identify and eliminate failures in home design and understand better the optimal living/sleeping temperatures (a nice task for big data)

Eye Tracking

The only limitation on this really is your imagination:

> Imagine twinning this with an Alivecor ECG to make the ultimate polygraph: “OK Doctor if you promise me this is the treatment you would want for yourself could you just hold my phone, look at the camera and say that again?”

> Imagine the opportunity to combine medical tests with authentication processes

> If you can’t imagine the ability for this new technology to conduct a range of neurological tests read this latest research paper published by researchers at John Hopkins: “Toward an ECG for the Eyes” Imagine placing a Samsung GS4 in front of a Smart TV and following a H shaped trace over the TV screen to provide a fully documented neurological test? Now combine that tech with a built in picoprojector (like the one on the Samsung Beam)…

Follow the dot on the connected SmartTV Screen Neurological Test

Gesture control/Hovering

This is going to make the device great to use for reading and I can think of some great reading opportunities and imagine the value such seamless interface control will be able to add to screen/file sharing video calls.

For Doctors in clean environments wearing gloves etc I can imagine the ability to control a docked device without physical contact is going to be interesting.

Smart pause

The ability to have a video pause when you look away will mean you never miss any action. I can imagine this is going to be very desirable for advertisers but it also opens a range of opportunities to verify the provision of information e.g. being used to ensure a healthcare professional has watched an instructional training video (no CPD points if you don’t watch it all!) or ensuring a patient info on consent video has been watched.

Dual Video Call

Dual Video Call

I don’t think the presentation made the value of this very clear. An Apple keynote would’ve had the press reporting the reinvention of Video Calling had they demoed the same tech with a better storyboard. As it was some prominent female tech leaders expressed that it was all a bit demeaning of women;

Samsung Dual Video Call

Perhaps a worker living abroad calling home to wife and kids and then bringing mum into the call from her hospital bed, or a Video Call with a Nurse or Emergency Call Handler who brings in the Doctor “Let’s just check this result with the 3G Doctor to be sure” would’ve worked better in my opinion because it would’ve better highlighted the value of this tech in my opinion.

Dual Video Call use in emergency response

The remote control for your life

The Remote Control for your life Samsung GS4

An InfraRed signal might not seem breakthrough but I think it’s going to prove very popular. Taking over the TV controller is going to enable Samsung to really be at the centre of personal entertainment and drive lots of appeal and then user familiarity amongst senior audiences.

Induction Charger

Nice induction Charger implementation

I’ve found this is a technology that is loved by seniors. The ability to just drop the device next to the bed is really elegant and obviously get’s around the need to fiddle with those horrendously designed fiddly micro USB leads.

As the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer this is very promising for Samsung’s mHealth role into the future as it’s going to be the leading brand for induction chargers. If you’re a medical device manufacturer who needs to get power into your device you now know who to talk to…

Swappable Batteries

Samsung Swappable boosted Battery

A big problem I’m seeing in healthcare enterprise uses of iPads is that there batteries just can’t last the full working day. Sure you can have a backup phone etc but the ability to have one of these in the car for a health visitor is just so welcome to anyone who’s got important work to do with the device.

Extra Battery Kit

I also saw Samsung Marketing doing some great event marketing at the recent SXSW where they offered those who were active on social media the opportunity to tweet them to get a battery swapped out for a charged one. I really hope we see more of this at tech shows as it’s a great way of brands helping fans of their hardware to get their voices out.

Samsung Branded Peripherals

With the original S Health announcement Samsung had shown it’s capacity to work with top medical device partners. I had thought this was an expression of intent by Samsung to take mHealth very seriously so it’s a bit disappointing that none of the devices shown in New York had validated medical device status.

With Samsung Group’s capacity to build practically anything this development isn’t a big surprise but I believe it will limit the initial healthcare professional opportunities. On the plus side low cost own branded devices are really going to boost the adoption of S Health which I’m confident will in turn drive demand (and the required retail space) for more professional/expensive peripherals.

If Medical Device manufacturers don’t think a mobile brand is going to replace them before the decade (just as Nokia mobiles cannibalised cameras, calculators, etc, etc) they should look long and hard at this brand extension by Samsung.

The rise of mHealth 2010 - 2020

S Band

Samsung S Band

I personally don’t quite see the need for Samsung to range this, no doubt their MNO customers want this to rival the Nike Fuel Band’s and Jawbone UPs but I’d be surprised if this is needed as the built in pedometer’s Samsung’s already sold on millions of it’s Asian market retailing smartphones have already cannibalised this motion sensing tech by several orders of magnitude.

Perhaps the mobile operators with their obsession with marketing to young customers will prove me wrong by making these bright coloured bands popular but I get the feeling most telcos aren’t going to ship the device with this accessory as the recall/return rate to date on these devices would be very undesirable and could have a knock on effect on the smartphone in markets where it is sold subsidised.

Body Scale

Samsung BodyScale

I recall how Withings used to go with this phrase to describe their digital WiFi connected weigh scale but it seems to have been dropped in favor of the new term Body Analyzer so I wonder if there are some branding issues at play.

Withings have dropped the name Body Monitor for Smart Body Analyzer

It surprises me that Samsung haven’t branded a medical device manufacturers device (like the A&D and Omron devices in the initial S Health announcement) as this would’ve added more accuracy (important with digital readings) but perhaps we’ll see that launched as a premium alternative with the Samsung device ensuring there is enough profit to enable mass market mobile retailers to give over shelve space to medical devices.

HRM (Heart Rate Monitor)

Samsung HRM Effective Running Coach Should GO with the Nike BioHeadphones like Apple

Personally I’m not really seeing this working as a profitable product in the line up for Samsung. If I was Samsung I’d have gone with an earphone embedded HR monitoring alternative that would offer greater cool factor and could be neatly paired with the music player.

Missing Blood Glucose Monitor

Samsung S Health Screenshot

I’m surprised there wasn’t more focus on a glucose monitoring accessory as all the Telcos mHealth units have ambitions to get into this market and a mobile brand twinned device would be key to this. It would also be attractive as a way of positioning Samsung’s Health goals with S Health as so far uncalibrated pedometer, weigh scale and chest strap really aren’t taking it out of the already possible Fitness market (if that was their objective presumably this would’ve all been branded “S Fitness”).

From the event it looks like a connected diabetes monitor nearly made the final cut too as the S Health app screenshots all show Glucose level reading prominently. Fortunately the native S Health app has a BG field so you can still connect with this market (patients will just need to add the readings themselves). Perhaps we’ll see a neat app added that will let the patients add their data via the speech transcription technologies we saw neatly demoed with the native S Translation app.

Is Samsung trying to do too much outside of the device?

Samsung GS4 Game Pad

I think one of the things that’s really working well for Apple is the innovation in accessories and apps that it’s driving. While it’s great to see sure footed actions I’m not sure Samsung’s going to get the same if it keeps trying to do everything. Although it failed for Nokia’s Wellness team I think a strategy where they give S Health away to encourage partners like gyms, pharma brands and HCPs to build for Samsung.

What mHealth opportunities do you see in Samsung’s Galaxy S4?

About David Doherty
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5 Responses to Samsung takes S Health centre stage at Galaxy S4 launch

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