Samsung's Galaxy S9 to include blood pressure monitor, research app

By Laura Lovett
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Samsung’s latest phones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, will incorporate a new digital health app that will track users' blood pressure and stress level while helping researchers collect data. Seoul-based Samsung Electronics teamed up with the University of California San Fransisco to develop the research app, called My BP Lab. 

“At Samsung, we have a firm commitment to the health and well-being of our users,”  Peter Koo, senior VP and leader of the Health Service Team at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. “That’s why we developed a revolutionary optical sensor in the Galaxy S9 and S9+. We are pleased to be partnering with UCSF to utilize this sensor and contribute to research that will provide our users with crucial and meaningful feedback about their health.”

The app uses the Galaxy S9’s new optical sensor to directly measure blood pressure, allowing the smartphone to take readings without any external hardware, according to a statement. 

Researchers at UCSF will get personalized, on-demand information about users’ stress and blood pressure levels. One of the goals of the newly announced study aims to improve the accuracy of the blood pressure readings by collecting data from thousands of users. Researches also said they want to help users gain a better understanding of their stress and blood pressure levels, according to a statement. 

“This study could provide the largest dataset yet on stress, daily emotional experiences, and blood pressure,” Wendy Berry Mendes, a professor of psychiatry at UCSF and the Director of the Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Samsung could help people all over the world improve their health by managing stress.”

Users can opt into a three-week UCFS research study that will track stress and how experiences throughout the day impact users. Those who opted in will fill out questions about their behavior, sleep, and exercise. The researchers will then be able to match this with the blood pressure measurements and be able to give participants feedback on their stress levels. 

The company said that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will expand on its Bixby AI app to include augmented reality. This app is expected to be able to calculate calories in a meal, as well as translate foreign text. 

Samsung has been connected to the digital health field for some time. In fact, in October consumer electronics company announced that two of the spin-out companies from its incubator, C-Labs, are digital health related. One is a phone overlay for people with presbyopia and the other is a glucometer that attaches to a phone and uses its camera to analyze glucose levels. 

Samsung has also been making some key health-related partnerships. Most recently, the company announced that it would be teaming up with MobileHelp, maker of home and wearable medical alert devices, to integrate a personal emergency response system to Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches. 

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