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Wearable technology comes with a touch of artificial intelligence

Wearable technology comes with a touch of artificial intelligence

Samsung brings the latest fashion trends to wearable tech with AI twists in new watch and ring

Samsung dresses its wearable devices according to the latest technological trends: artificial intelligence.

The South Korean electronics giant announced on Wednesday that both its first-ever premium smartwatch and a smart ring that signals its entry into a niche market will include AI features that help people monitor and manage their health.

Both the $650 Galaxy Watch Ultra and $400 Galaxy Ring are extensions of a push Samsung launched six months ago, when it introduced its first smartphones with AI technology as the main attraction. The high-end smartwatch costs nearly twice as much as Samsung’s latest standard model, the $350 Galaxy Watch 7.

Connecting AI to people’s essential devices has become an accelerating trend. The technology is already embedded in smartphones from Google and Apple, which compete with Samsung, and also in the latest personal computers powered by Microsoft’s Windows software.

The use of AI in Samsung’s new premium watch and ring is specifically aimed at improving and maintaining personal health, which is the primary reason most people buy wearable technology.

Both Samsung’s watch and ring rely on AI to better analyze biometric data collected from the person wearing the devices to customize assessments of their well-being via an “energy score” that provides ratings on a scale of one to 100 and also makes recommendations, like a virtual fitness coach. Most of the information is collected on the devices themselves. But some data requires analysis via data centers with security that Samsung likens to a virtual Fort Knox.

The premium phone is the most advanced of Samsung’s latest wearables, capable of some functions — such as sleep apnea detection — that the Galaxy Ring can’t. The ring also needs to be charged less often, boasting a battery life of six to seven days between refills.

But the smartwatch also finds itself in a much more crowded market, currently led by Apple, which has increasingly focused on health features since entering the market a decade ago. More than 60 million people already use the Samsung Health app that works with its smartwatches.

The health benefits associated with wearable technology have helped drive more people to buy smartwatches. Global sales of the devices are expected to reach about $29 billion this year, according to a forecast from research firm Gartner Inc. That equates to about 164 million new smartwatches being worn on wrists this year. Gartner predicts annual sales volume will rise to 195 million by 2028.

Samsung will likely face more challenges in the smart ring market, even though it won’t face much competition so far. The segment has been shaped by startups like Oura and RingConn that haven’t made a significant dent so far.

“Smart rings are still an emerging category with no exclusive use cases, with little expectation for growth outside a niche market” through 2028, Gartner said in its recent overview of the wearable technology market.

The company expects a small segment including smart rings to generate revenue of $2.4 billion this year, eventually rising to about $4.6 billion in 2028.

Although it will come in nine different sizes, the Samsung Galaxy Ring will only fit one type of software: Google’s Android operating system. That leaves out the largely affluent consumers who own iPhones and are often interested in trying out new forms of technology like the Galaxy Ring.

Samsung is also rolling out its latest attempt to entice more people to buy a foldable phone, one that features dual displays that can be hinged together, transforming the device into a pseudo-tablet. It’s a concept that Samsung has been pushing since 2019 with minimal success, but the company has continued to update the device with camera and AI features to feed the niche market. The next-gen model, the Galaxy Z Fold 6, will retail for $1,899.99.

Meanwhile, union members in South Korea have called an indefinite strike to pressure Samsung to accept their calls for higher wages and benefits. Thousands of members of the National Samsung Electronics Union began a temporary, three-day strike on Monday. But the union said Wednesday it was calling an indefinite strike, accusing management of not wanting to negotiate.

Samsung claims there have been no production interruptions.