Monthly Archives: March 2015

Design Considerations for Wrist-Wearable Heart Rate Monitors

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Kevin Kilbane, Senior Product Manager, Optical Sensors, Silicon Labs Wrist-wearable fitness bands and smart watches are moving from basic accelerometer-based “smart pedometers” to include biometric sensing such as heart rate monitoring. This trend is being driven by manufacturers who are looking for differentiation in the rapidly growing wearables market and by educated consumers who want to maximize their performance and fitness with more effective training. Real-time continuous heart rate monitoring helps to motivate consumers to adapt their workouts based on heart rate zone feedback. Designers of these next-generation wearables face several challenges when implementing continuous heart rate monitoring in their products: Measurement accuracy of heart rate Tracking accuracy while exercising Validating performance across many unique individuals Reducing size and thickness of wearable designs Extending battery life. Wearable system designers have the choice of implementing non-invasive optical or electrical techniques. Electrical techniques typically use chest straps with two contacts on the ... Read More »

THE LOW ENERGY REVOLUTION Developing the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem

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Duncan Bremner, Founder and CTO, SureCore Limited Thanks to the film ‘Mean Girls’,  we can all remember how it was at school; the geeks were geeking, the sports jocks were jockeying, the plastics were strutting their stuff, and everyone else was just trying to get through the  day. Then BAM!!;  a new, in your face, upstart appears on the scene, ruffles everybody’s feathers and challenges the status quo. The same has just happened to the technology markets with the arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT). No-one really knows what it is, how it will change their business models, and what opportunities it may uncover. At present, few have even tried to understand the global implications[1]. The one thing everyone is convinced of is the arrival of IoT will be a significant market inflection point; Cisco has suggested it will have an impact 10 times greater that the internet itself[2]. ... Read More »

Memory as a Formative Technology

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Charlie Cheng, President and CEO, Kilopass Technology, Inc. The statement that memory is a formative technology for electronics systems is non-controversial. Going one step further by stating that memory is increasingly important to electronics systems does not raise eyebrows either. Indeed, memory is omnipresent in electronics systems, from wearables to network routers, and often plays a key role in overall system performance. Demand for memory will continue to expand rapidly in the coming years driven by the surging number of connected devices and the Internet backbone required to support them. The appetite for memories, with increasingly exacting specifications, seems insatiable as growing revenues and profits of the semiconductor memory makers suggest. Moore’s Law has mostly driven the evolution of memory over approximately the last 30 years. Improvements in memory performance, power and area have mostly been the direct result of process evolution. These advances were the outcome of a combination ... Read More »

On the Threshold of a Low Power Revolution

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By Mike Salas, Vice President Marketing, Ambiq Micro Subthreshold power optimized technology (SPOT) has the potential to dramatically reduce the power consumption of the next generation of microcontrollers. Energy consumption is a critical factor in the design of portable systems, replacing performance as the driver for the industry. Reducing power enables longer battery life and/or allows a smaller, lighter battery to be used to not only minimize cost but to also reduce the size of the device and make it more attractive to users.  Ideally, it may even be possible to begin considering using energy harvested sources to replace batteries entirely. But to get a dramatic reduction in energy consumption requires a significant shift in the way logic is designed. SPOT (Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology) is a different approach to traditional logic transistor design, operating at voltage levels far below what is considered normal. In traditional designs there is a ... Read More »