Samsung Dev Con Health Panel

The idea of a 'quantified self' may not be as far off as we think

Smartphones, wearable technology and ongoing consciousness about our health is at the top of many people's minds today. New markets for data-collecting devices heading towards the "quantified self" are beginning to emerge, so how are the people making these services and devices planning to make it happen? Representatives from Cigna, Khosla Ventures, Basis Science, Samsung and FOCUS were all on hand for a roundtable discussion about the topic at SDC 2013.

Although each differed slightly in their ideas on how it should be executed, the group could easily agree that bringing together data from many different sources and devices into a central area for analysis is the biggest leap forward we can make in health tracking today. Whether it's a device on your wrist, your head, your foot or even inside you in the form of a pill, there is a serious need for a simple way to bring in data from all of these sensors and make some sense of it.

But how do we accomplish that goal? It starts with creating an ecosystem of connected devices and sensors that can technically talk to each other. Andreas Hoffman of Samsung explained how the company is building an open platform with S Health that lets developers build apps and devices that can both read and write data to a central place.

And once you put together detailed information about your activity and body, the possibilities expand greatly. The panel posited the possibilities of offering collected data to your physician when you go in for a check-up or having it available if you're rushed to the hospital. With consent, data could even be aggregated to help doctors conducting research get a better idea of how to diagnose patients.

But even on a lighter note, wearable health technology can simply help people reach their own fitness goals without professional help. Tracking your progress daily, setting goals and being held accountable by friends and family with social integration are all features of health devices both available today and coming in the near future.

The future of health monitoring isn't far off, and with continued development in both hardware and software this market could really jump into the public eye.

More: Follow all of our coverage from SDC 2013

 
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Industry experts weigh in on the future of mobile health at SDC 13

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There are some real benefits to this, but it also brings up some pretty serious privacy concerns. A phone that tracks your vital signs could also be sending this data somewhere where your information is not protected.

A smartwatch that test your glucose levels for diabetics, pulse and blood pressure, also have a panic button for the elderly and disabled sending a signal to your phone to call emergency services are things smartphones could do right now, amongst other things. I hope to see if Samsung or others will get in on this.