Samsung will launch two foldable smartphones in the coming months if rumors are correct. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 should deliver several hardware upgrades over their predecessor that will make the 2021 Samsung foldables more exciting than ever. The Fold 3 is the more exciting of the two. It’s supposed to feature a more compact body, although the foldable screen will be almost as large as its predecessor’s. A stronger Ultra Thing Glass (UTG) generation will cover the foldable OLED screen, and the new UTG tech will support stylus interaction. The Fold 3 is also rumored to pack Under Panel Camera (UPC) tech, Samsung’s under-display camera that the company already confirmed. But what if health turns out the be the Fold 3’s most exciting feature?
The foldable screen is the main attraction of this particular phone form factor, but the entry price is still quite high. We’d expect the new Fold 3 to cost between $1,500 and $2,000, with the price tag likely closer to the upper limit. The foldable screen, UTG, UPC, and the S Pen stylus might not be enough to convince people to pay twice the price tag of a traditional flagship. And the Android experience on tablets is nothing to be excited about.
Samsung’s recent work on new technologies that might be incorporated in foldable smartphones proves the Korean giant is looking to add other selling points to this particular type of portable computer. Dutch blog LetsGoDigital uncovered a Samsung patent that details sensors that could be placed under the screen of a foldable phone like the Fold 3 and Flip 3 to collect more health data than what you’d expect from this type of products.
Titled Foldable electronic device and method of estimating bioinformation using the same, the Samsung patent was filed with the USPTO in April 2020.
As seen in the images above, foldable phones might feature invisible biometric sensors placed under the display. They could collect data in various positions, depending on how the foldable screen is held or used.
The sensors would pick up data from the user’s finger, and there’s even a use case scenario where you’d have to fold the screen on top of the finger to apply additional pressure.
Samsung might also choose to place sensors on the phone’s exterior, so biometric readings would take into account data from multiple fingers to determine various parameters. Blood pressure is one example that might use readings from multiple sensors.
Algorithms would also take into account gender, weight, and body mass index (BMI), as well as temperature and humidity data from the environment.
The patent indicates the sensors could perform various readings, including blood pressure, vascular age, arterial stiffness, aortic pressure, vascular compliance, stress index, and fatigue levels. Here’s a detailed description of each of them:
- Blood pressure: oscillometric method to measure pressure changes in the artery.
- Vascular age: the condition of your carotid artery. Can also provide information about your cholesterol level.
- Aortic pressure waveform: ratio of sitting to supine position. Prolonged sitting can also negatively affect vascular health.
- Arterial stiffness: or arterial wall stiffness. Stiffening of the arteries causes the heart to pump harder.
- Vascular compliance: The degree to which an organ yields when force is applied.
- Stress index: to what extent do you suffer from physical or mental stress.
- Fatigue level: how fit you feel. This value can be related to your stress index.
Performing such readings with a phone seems like something taken from a sci-fi film. It’s unclear whether Samsung would be able to offer all these features at once from a device like the Fold 3 or Flip 3. It’s more likely that Samsung is covering all its bases. As with other technology detailed in patents, there’s no telling when the inventor will bring it to market.
Not to mention that Samsung might need some sort of regulatory approvals for performing more sophisticated health readings with a smart gadget.
Also, it’s usually wearable devices that can collect health data, with the Apple Watch often credited for saving lives. On the other hand, Samsung did include heart rate sensors with previous Galaxy phones, so the new patent seems to build on that type of technology. Not to mention that the coronavirus pandemic has altered everything about the day to day life, and that includes doctor appointments and health data monitoring. With all that in mind, a Fold 3 capable of reading the health parameters presented in the patent does sound exciting.