Samsung’s mHealthy S5, Gear–and potential

click to enlargeIs there an untapped mHealth business model here?

Samsung’s dual announcements in New York and at Barcelona’s annual GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) of the Galaxy S5 smartphone and the latest iterations of their smartwatch (left), the Gear 2/Neo, confirm what this Editor believes will be a major 2014 trend: the matter-of-fact integration of vital signs sensors into easy-to-adopt form factors. Reported by ZDNet:

  • Galaxy S5:It’s so small and unnoticeable, you would be forgiven for not giving it a second thought. Next to the flash is a heart-rate sensor that can — prepare yourself for a hearty dose of real-life sci-fi — see the blood pumping through your finger. It works when you gently push your finger over the flash on the rear of the handset. This ties in with the smartphone’s pre-installed health apps, such as the S Health, which includes a fitness tracker and pedometer.” The phone also connects to the Gear 2 software. (This is in addition to the fingerprint scanner.) Article
  • Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo specification: Bluetooth 4 low energy, Infrared, heart rate sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope  Article

Easy to use tools for health–and fall detection–baked into a mainstream phone and a fairly attractive smartwatch. There’s plenty of health and safety functionality for all ages built into both.  What’s the missing link? Here’s a thought. A manufacturer/wireless JV or subsidiary which targets the health monitoring potential of these devices to create a separate revenue stream. The ‘risk’ could be spread to resellers allowed to creatively adapt devices like the Gear for older adults in independent and assisted living environments, or for autistic/at-risk children. This is not an inconsistently supported AT&T ForHealth [TTA 5 Feb] or a failed Lifecomm [TTA 14 Oct 13], but an entirely different business model. Reader thoughts?  

More on MWC: Washington Post

Update 28 February: The Galaxy S5’s heart rate sensor may make it a medical device in the eyes of South Korea’s health agency, forcing the phone to be regulated and reviewed in the ROK before its 11 April worldwide release. FierceMedicalDevices. Hat tip to @DrDave01 (Dr. David Albert of AliveCor) and David Doherty of @mhealthinsight via Twitter.

Delays in ‘game-changing’ PERS

Both Philips GoSafe and Lifecomm have apparently blown past at least two in-market dates.

Philips Lifeline GoSafe: Announced at CES in January [TTA 11 Jan], it is a mobile, souped-up PERS chunky neck-worn pendant with the fall detection features of Lifeline Auto-Alert plus GPS detection through multiple systems such as Skyhook, Wi-Fi and ‘intelligent bread crumbing’. The CES-announced debut was March, reconfirmed in February to Leading Age [TTA 14 Feb]. Then a small blog, The Senior List, confirmed with Philips in June that in-market would be delayed till fall. Now that fall is here, an industry insider tipped us to the further delay till December, confirmed by a later article in the The Senior List blog. Notably Philips is beefing up its website and video demo presence, apparently building up to an announcement near the end of the year. In the PERS category, one of the peak selling seasons is post-New Year’s, after holiday get-togethers bring the realization that a loved one is getting frailer and in need of some protection.

On the polar opposite, the Lifecomm PERS (from the Qualcomm/Hughes Telematics-now-Verizon/AMAC-now-Tunstall JV) seems to be hanging in limbo–again. (more…)