Give a voice to your body with a smart wristband - imec and Samsung collaborate

June 06, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Imec, the nano-scale semiconductor and applications research organisation, is working with Samsung on a “digital health” initiative, with imec adding sensors and applications to Samsung’s SimBand reference design for a “smart watch” format of vital-signs monitoring, wearable device.

Speaking at a meeting at imec this week, Young Sohn, president and chief strategy officer at Samsung Electronics, described the objective of creating a “dashboard” for the body, that will enable you, “to read out key parameters”, of your health – potentially going beyond “fitness” parameters, and into monitoring medical conditions.

The vehicle is Samsung's SimBand, which Young Sohn emphasises is not (at least, not yet) a product but a reference design, a platform on which to mount sensors and applications. To that end, it is – in hardware and software terms – an API on to which designers can mount exchangeable and replaceable sensors.

At Imec, work is focussing on areas such as making transcutaneous measurements with different wavelengths of light, looking at parameters such as hearts rate, blood oxygen saturation, and with contact sensors to measure skin impedance, potentially deriving data as complex as an ECG. The image is of a sensor module that interfaces to the SimBand platform. SimBand is, says Young Sohn, an open-platform approach designed to accelerate development of the data-gathering part – sensor and algorithm development – of a larger digital health concept. Aiming to make the device more practical, even if it is a development vehicle, is the battery power for the wristband; a “shuttle” battery clips to the outer side of the band on the inner-wrist side, with a magnetic catch, so that a batteries can be charged separately and fresh one attached in seconds.

Young Sohn notes that there is a need to bring both accuracy and low power to the sensing function; Imec says that the sensor array it has deployed on the SimBand promises to bring a new understanding of the body’s inner workings to the world of consumer health monitoring. Luc Van den hove, president and CEO at Imec adds, “We are excited to have contributed to Samsung’s effort to take the next step in wearable health monitoring