Samsung open-source project aids wearables research

  • May 2, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

Samsung has unveiled Health Stack 1.0, an open-source project to help researchers build apps, backend servers and analysis tools for wearable devices based on the Android and Wear OS operating systems.

Advancements in smartphones and wearables have the potential to revolutionise healthcare research and the development of data-based biomarkers. However, using these devices for research often requires new mobile health apps and services. This requires medical researchers to invest time and money in fields that may be unfamiliar to them, creating obstacles to the expansion of innovative technologies.

Samsung developed the Health Stack to overcome those obstacles. The project’s included app SDK, web portal and backend system make system construction simpler, enabling researchers to focus on their research. Developers can build necessary applications quickly and easily, while participants can rest assured the data they provide are being managed securely.

“The Samsung Health Stack, which aims to make it easier and safer to acquire digital health data, will lower the barriers between medical researchers and digital technology experts, serving as a foundation for innovation in the digital health industry,” said Yunsu Lee, vice president at Samsung Electronics. “By promoting the development of digital health services, we hope to ultimately improve the quality of life for people around the world. We also hope that the Health Stack, being an open-source project, will be helpful to many people in the field, and we welcome the participation of interested developers and researchers.”

When conducting studies with wearables on conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, the Health Stack lets researchers simplify the data collection process by entering only relevant information into the web portal.

Applications developed with the app SDK can support frequent communication between researchers and participants, leading to better research outcomes. Making the process faster can let researchers take on more varied and proactive healthcare projects, helping create an environment where consumers can enjoy a healthier life.

Since unveiling an alpha version at the 2022 Samsung Developer Conference (SDC), Samsung has steadily advanced the Health Stack, releasing the beta version in March this year. Version 1.0 is scheduled for release in June.

Health Stack 1.0 improves on the alpha version’s research introduction, participant onboarding, wearable data collection and basic survey functions, and its security and stability have been enhanced for reliability in actual healthcare research. In addition to supporting basic data collection, Health Stack 1.0 offers an activity task feature that tracks clinical participants’ progress on specific research-related tasks.

The survey feature, which enables researchers to acquire data directly from participants, has also been enhanced with a dynamic survey function that can reflect the purpose of the research and researchers’ intentions based on participants’ responses, enabling follow-up actions to be taken afterwards.

By enhancing the usability of research management tools, Health Stack 1.0 lets researchers focus more on research design. It also provides several methods to offer participants relevant information to reduce delays. The documentation provided to developers has also been improved to make it easier to build research systems.

Although it is still in the early stages as an open-source project, many healthcare companies are considering using the Health Stack. Start-ups such as Salted and All Round Doctors are collecting data for research purposes and have considered using those data to provide healthcare services.

Samsung’s skin temperature measurement technology has been added to its existing calendar-based cycle tracking feature. Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro users can now get deeper insights to manage their menstrual cycles and overall health. The feature is being progressively released via Samsung Health app updates in Korea, USA and 30 European countries.

“Samsung’s holistic view of wellness has been further advanced by our sensor innovations, delivering in-depth health insights that empower users,” said Hon Pak, vice president at Samsung Electronics. “The new infra-red temperature sensor on Galaxy Watch 5 broadens our whole health offerings, providing more convenient ways to track and understand personal health.”