Let’s try to see the big picture here. Staying healthy takes work and dedication, and in an increasingly busy world it’s easy to let our physical well-being take a back seat. The two key common denominators of the Galaxy S5, Samsung Gear 2 devices, and Gear Fit are the heart rate sensor and the S Health 3.0, Samsung’s health app. With the announcement of these products last February, JK Shin, President and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung, said, “Consumers are looking for mobile tools that inspire and support them as they improve their everyday lives.” From the keynote speech of Developer Day @ MWC 20114, it is projected that by 2015, the number of mobile health app users will reach 500 million people.
Being health conscious is not a trend Samsung is trying to set. It is already a well-established trend of the people. Therefore, the heart rate sensor and the S Health 3.0 of the Galaxy S5, Samsung Gear 2 devices and Gear Fit did not appear by random chance. They reflect Samsung’s effort to meet people’s needs and preferences.
The Logic of measuring heart rate
Galaxy S5 is the first smartphone to feature a heart rate sensor, and Gear 2 devices and Gear Fit are Samsung’s first wearable devices with such feature. This is not surprising considering the technology involved in measuring heart rate. Here is how it works:
The blood flows in and out of the blood vessel at a different speed because the heart pumps the blood in and out at a different pressure. When you put a LED light into the blood vessel while the blood is flowing, the amount of lights that get reflected differs depending on the speed of the blood flow inside the blood vessel. It aggregates the amount of lights reflected for 5 to 10 seconds, and then translates that information into a wave or frequency to calculate the heart rate per minute.
This is the type of technology Samsung decided to incorporate in the Galaxy S5, Samsung Gear 2 devices and Gear Fit. Integrating it into a single feature takes a big step towards meeting the need of health conscious people.
Why Heart Rate?
So, out of a broad spectrum of health related information, why did Samsung decide to integrate heart rate monitoring? Heart rate is one of the most frequently measured pieces of bio-information. Moreover, heart rate can provide useful information, such as your state of health before, during, or after a workout. Smartphones and wearable devices are tools that we have with us for most of our waking hours (and occasionally while we sleep), which means that they are effective not only for frequent monitoring of heart rate, but can also be used to improve the effectiveness of workouts.
The S Health 3.0
Since Samsung enabled the utilization of heart rate as information, it was important to make it easy and effective for users to actually use.
As many already know, the app ‘S Health’ is not a new app, as it was already featured on the Galaxy S4. However, the S Health 3.0 of the Galaxy S5, Samsung Gear 2 devices, and Gear Fit integrated heart rate monitoring while still supporting previous features such as the pedometer. Compared to the previous version of the S Health, because it can calculate and aggregate more data, it can give much more detailed personal health feedback. For example, The S Health is also able to collect and calculate data of calories burned, along with heart rate, based on the type of workout, such as walking, running, cycling or hiking.
It is not hard to imagine that this feature can guide people in the right direction if they want to have a healthier lifestyle. For example, one of the most useful features of the S Health 3.0 is the coaching option. Partnering up with Cigna, a Global Health Insurance and Health Service Company, the ‘coaching feature’ recommends workout plans and goals customized to your lifestyle, using information gathered at the beginning of the session.
One other promising thing about the S Health is the involvement of third party apps. This section is likely to expand because more apps are expected to come. For example, Samsung announced the S Health SDK (software development kit) for developers all around the world to make a variety of creative and useful health apps that people desire. (Currently the beta version of SDK is available upon your partnership request.)
Samsung has recognized the desire of people to stay healthy and fit, and have adapted and customized heart rate sensor technology into a mobile device for the first time. However, they also made sure that the technology and the information is effectively used. The S Health is sure to be a very effective app for health conscious people who want to maintain their fitness level without any outside help. The current and expected feature of the S Health 3.0 that utilizes the heart rate sensor and more could provide people with both the data and the recommendations they need to reach a greater state of well-being.