At MWC Americas, Samsung was out to show how it's thinking beyond the average wearable use cases and announcing partnerships that will take its devices into new domains, going beyond the usual use cases.
Workplace safety, helping the elderly, making fitness more exciting - Samsung's cooked up some partnerships to savvily get its wearables onto more wrists, while companies will be able to take advantage of round-the-clock data being sucked from the sensors on these smartwatches and fitness trackers.
We went along to the show to see what Samsung's up to.
Safe from harm
With wearables giving us a round-the-clock biometric insights like no technology before, Ability Wearables is taking advantage of it for its wellness app. Ability Wearables' software can be installed to track the biometrics of company employees and looks for signs of fatigue. By measuring the wearer's activity and sleep quality, with info taken from the accelerometer and heart rate sensor, it can alert employers if someone is at risk of danger.
Ability is designed for for use in physically demanding workplaces, or where tiredness can put employees at risk of injury or worse. It also uses GPS, as this can be critical for location safety and keeping an eye on lone workers. Ability CEO Shiv Madan told me they tweaked the accelerometer algorithm using cameras monitoring truck drivers, observing when they drifted off at the wheel, and taught the wearables to detect it.
SoloProtect, another partnerships, is similar in nature in that it helps protect people working alone, and works in a similar vein to some of the other emergency wearables we've looked at. The idea is to give peace of mind to people who perhaps work as estate agents or have to visit strangers' homes, and worry for their safety. The user will be able to send a signal out to an emergency response team if in distress, while their GPS location will be accessible if the wearer goes out of contact.
Should you be walking into a sketchy looking building or part of town, you can capture a small bit of audio in the watch with details of where you are, what you're doing etc, so the emergency team will have more information to go on should you need to send out an alert.
Staying fit with VR
VirZoom is a virtual reality fitness system that combines an exercise bike with a VR headset - yes, you look ridiculous, but it also makes exercise a little more fun. It allows you to feel like you're actually biking along a road, or in the case of a more peculiar game we tried at MWC, riding a flying pegasus.
VirZoom works with a small module that plugs into existing exercise bikes and means they'll work with the VR headset, so as you power those pedals in real life, you'll also propel yourself forward in the game. We could also steer by leaning left and right, while there were buttons on the handlebars.
VirZoom has been on the scene for a while, but it's now planning a rollout in fitness centers with the Samsung Gear VR headset. Joe Lamoureux, company director of sales, told Wareable that VirZoom is planning a widespread rollout in Q4 this year, January at the latest. It should also work with most exercise bikes made from 2010 onwards.
Help the aged
Reemo's platform is all about keeping an eye on the elderly, monitoring their activity, heart rate and sleep quality day and night. The app is a link to caregivers who can keep an eye on the senior on the other end, while the wearer can contact the carer via the watch's cellular connection should they have a fall or need help for another reason.
Reemo looks closely at movements and alerts caregivers if it notices any unusual patterns, and can help spot other concerning patterns that could give someone a heads-up before an emergency happens.
"They can see how the senior is trending," said John Valiton, CEO of Reemo Health, in a statement. "Do their activity levels match their care plans? What are their heart rates over time? If there are negative trends, do they need medical attention now, before there's an emergency room trip?"
Plus, a lot of elderly people would likely feel happier wearing a smartwatch than a device that's explicitly and solely for the purpose of tracking their safety.
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