Samsung’s Simband confirms the real battle of the smartbands is for data collection
Samsung’s announcement this week of the Simband “reference design” simply underlines something that has been becoming clearer and clearer over the last year: that the real battle of the smartbands will not be in price, looks, or functionality, but in the richness of the data collected, from multiple sources.
Now Samsung’s technology announcement has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that rich data is currently the Holy Grail for wearable technology leaders. The company’s Strategy & Innovation Center website states: “Devices based on the Simband platform will be able to gather vital diagnostic information – from your heart rate to your skin’s electrical conductivity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
At the center of the Samsung initiative is its Digital Health Initiative, which is an “open data platform”, underlining that Samsung wants to make as many friends as possible in this space. The platform is “tailored to take advantage of the latest sensors, behavioral algorithms, battery technologies and displays”, which is a catch-all: The South Korean company doesn’t want to exclude anyone in its race to become the standard platform for the compilation and mining of smart body-based data.
Bring your own data
It’s also the somewhat glossed-over fact that without input from third parties, Samsung’s claim that “Simband is a way to listen to your entire body, interpret what it’s telling you and act on that intelligence” is still rather pompous, since Samsung’s own technology cannot collect all that data – not yet, at least. Nevertheless, it is a move in the right direction, as followers of the Quantified Self movement already knew.
The race to grab all this data while there are no industry standards in wearables also helps explain why Apple is buying Beats – because it can get additional personal data from a different source, other than the wrist: in this case from headphones. It is also the underlying principle behind Sony’s “life logging” concept which it has introduced to try and differentiate its new smartband, in an increasingly commoditized market. With its combination Bluetooth headset and smart wristband, Huawei is also trying to gather data from multiple sources around the body.
This craving for data is also why the Fitbit and Jawbone UP smartphone apps ask users “how are you feeling today”, and offer to track weight, plus food and drink consumption: all of this information adds a new dimension to the core collection of movement tracking.
Sony is pulling in data from other sources to supplement the movement info from its wristband – for example, and music listened to at a particular time of day, and even the weather conditions. To take this to the next level, Sony should consider partnering with Narrative or Autographer, to add photographic images to the data set.