Sensor Fusion refers to collecting data from multiple sensors and using that data to see what is happening during an event or events. This is done in conjunction with an algorithm that combines and analyzes the data and determines an outcome that fully describes the event at an instant in time. Figure 1 shows an example of such a system that collects data from multiple sensors, processes it, and sends it through an RF link to a central collection device.
While at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year, I saw a strong trend toward a high level of integration, especially in wearables. One estimate said that 1 million wearables will ship by the end of this year and by 2018 that total will be up to 300 million. The idea is to increase our productivity, efficiency, and monitor our health, just to name a few applications.
Activity monitors were really hot at CES this year. Misfit Wearables touted the slogan “living an active life” using a wide range of accessories, while walking, cycling, swimming, or sleeping. Their wearable technology combined with a smartphone app will help us set and reach goals, see stats and trends, and give us insights to our activity (or lack of activity). Their Shine product can integrate into a sport watch band, leather watch band, or necklace. Shine's three-dimensional accelerometer system can help estimate calories.
Figure 2 is a block diagram that shows typical functionality of some of these wearables.
We can all easily foresee integrating many of these items in the block diagram in Figure 2 into a monolithic solution in the not-too-distant future. Designers have even managed to put such a device into an adhesive plaster in three blocks of functionality: power, processing (Main), and communications interface (RF).
Figures 3 through 5 show detailed views of the adhesive plaster monitor with the three blocks, the ECG contact electrodes, and magnets used as intermediate contacts. This information and the images are from work done by Alex Chun Kit Chan, Hiroyuki Hamada, Kohei Higuchi, and Kazusuke Maenaka. Their paper is published as Adhesive Plaster-Type Human Activity Monitoring Device.
Due to the separated structures shown above, the monitoring device can be easily attached to the chest of a person and can be reused. The surgical tape containing the ECG electrodes is disposable.
Maxim Integrated, collaborating with Clearbridge VitalSigns and Orbital Research, has the FIT T-shirt as part of their wearable design arsenal. See Figure 6.
(Source: Maxim Integrated)
And finally, how about integration into a watch? See Figure 7 for a highly compact design in the i’m Watch with STMicro sensors.
Watch (no pun here) as these designs shrink before your very eyes and become even more integrated in 2014. Did you attend CES? What new designs are you looking forward to?