Partners See Opportunity As Samsung, Apple Tune In To Mobile Health Technology


Samsung last week said it will be holding a health-related event in San Francisco on May 28. That event will come a week ahead of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where the company is expected to reveal a further push into the fitness market. Apple's WWDC kicks off June 2, also in San Francisco.

Solution providers specializing in health-care services say new health- and fitness-related applications, sensors and services created by either company could open lucrative doors for them in the health-care space. They also say increased competition could spark advances in the mobile health-care space and create new opportunities in the larger $1.6 trillion health-care industry.

“The potential of this type of technology has not yet been tapped,” said Kumar Nandigam, CEO of Plano, Texas-based Tekpros, a health-care-focused solution provider. "This is going to be a huge industry, and I would say this is going to grow exponentially down the line."

[Related: BlackBerry Invests In Cloud-Based Health-Care Provider ]

Nandigam and other health-care-focused solution providers say that given the amount of work going on inside both Apple and Samsung, it's possible that both companies could be working on other gadgets beyond smartwatches and fitness trackers.

For its part, Samsung has been incorporating more fitness and health technology into its consumer products, including its smartphones, Galaxy Gear 2 and the Gear Fit. Samsung's Galaxy S5 smartphone features a heart rate monitor and the S Health fitness tracker software. The S Health app is a personal health tracker that lets you record workout data, blood glucose levels, weight, blood pressure and diet all backed up in the Samsung cloud.

Apple, meanwhile, has been mum when it comes to its health-care and fitness road map. It has partnered with Nike on fitness tracking FuelBand and Move App. And industry speculation abounds that Apple is working on a smartwatch, dubbed iWatch, and has hired a team of medical sensor experts, sleep researchers, exercise physiologists and fitness experts to help develop a health-conscious smartwatch. Last year, Apple executives traveled to Washington, D.C., in January to talk with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss mobile medical applications.

Nandigam says that Samsung has been traditionally easier to work with developing apps because of its open APIs and the fact the Android platform is based on open-source technology. However, Apple is the leader in medical apps and mobile devices in this field, Nandigam said. 

"If Apple and Samsung can allow application developers to build apps such as that, that is a huge market," said Partook Roychoudhury, CEO of Shield Watch-based in Tampa, Fla., a partner of Samsung and Apple. Shield Watch is building an app for medical professionals where patients will be able to connect with doctors remotely and easily share medical charts and prescription records, he said.

Nandigam believes mobile devices will continue to make inroads into health and fitness settings. "As a partner, you can make money by using different applications," he said. "Create multiple apps related to health and fitness different from what other applications have. Applications that can track your calories and things like that."

PUBLISHED MAY 5, 2014