Samsung and the University of Michigan team up on smartwatch technology for runners

Steven Loeb · September 19, 2023 · Short URL:

The eight-month long study will use Samsung Galaxy Watches to measure data

In 2016, the University of Michigan launched the Exercise & Sport Science Initiative (ESSI) to, as it put it at the time, "optimize physical performance and health for athletes and exercisers of all ages and abilities." The initiative has four main areas of focus, including injury prevention, diagnosis, and management, along with performance analytics, improving physical activity, and sports technology.

It's with that last one in mind that ESSI announced a research partnership with Samsung Electronics on smartwatch technology. Together, the two companies are looking to help runners manage their health and physical activity, and to provide them with more reliable and accurate data.

The eight-month long study, in which participant enrollment and data collection have already begun, is being overseen by The Michigan Performance Research Laboratory (MiPR), ESSI’s core research lab, using the Galaxy Watch series, specifically the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and Galaxy Watch6 Classic, to estimate the VOmax and sweat loss of participants as they run.

These devices feature personalized fitness coaching, advanced sleep management and health monitoring, along with a Personalized Heart Rate Zone feature that provides five running intensity levels based on each individual's capabilities. Another feature, called Track Run, helps runners record their runs while on a running track; Galaxy Watch provides analysis including asymmetry, regularity, and ground contact time to help improve performance and reduce injury.

The study will compare reference data against smartwatch data from both indoor (treadmill) and outdoor running trials of different distances, from 2.5km to 20km.

Samsung noted that it chose the MiPR lab for this study due to its established relationships within both the wearable tech industry as well as the running community, along with "the unique skill sets of its researchers."

“Samsung is committed to providing more meaningful health insights via our collaborations with industry leaders and academic institutions,” Hon Pak, Vice President and Head of the Digital Health Team, MX Business at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

“We are excited to partner with the University of Michigan’s Exercise & Sport Science Initiative — expert in the fields of fitness and sports health — in an effort to bring even more meaningful insights to those runners who rely on the Galaxy Watch series for accuracy and personalized motivation.”

ESSI's focus on sports technology, includes the development of sensors, wearable technology and materials, smart apparel, and safer equipment which it says on its website, "can intelligently manage a person’s wellbeing and behavior in a personalized manner."

"Researchers are working to develop and enhance sport technology in an effort to optimize performance, identify better methods to diagnose or evaluate potential for injury, and develop more informed approaches to optimally return the injured to play."

“For the Michigan Performance Research Laboratory, the opportunity to work with Samsung, and leverage the advanced sensors and health and wellness trackers from one of the most popular smartwatches, gives added credibility to our research,” said Ken Kozloff, co-director of ESSI, in a statement.

“It’s exciting to participate in a study that positively impacts our community, and we’ve had an overwhelming response from subjects looking to learn more about themselves that they can apply to their training.” 

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