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CES Trends: You Can Wear Your Integrated Analog

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.

Figure 1

A 9D sensor block diagram platform with RF (Source: STMicro)

A 9D sensor block diagram platform with RF
(Source: STMicro)

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.

Figure 2

An activity monitor block diagram showing the level of integration with today's technology (Source: Freescale)

An activity monitor block diagram showing the level of integration with today's technology
(Source: Freescale)

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.

Figure 3

A top view (component side) of adhesive plaster activity monitor

A top view (component side) of adhesive plaster activity monitor

Figure 4

The metal plates are positioned on the top of the disposable surgical tape.

The metal plates are positioned on the top of the disposable surgical tape.

Figure 5

A view of the back of the device. The magnets make contact with the metal plates on the surgical tape and are used to get an ECG signal.

A view of the back of the device. The magnets make contact with the metal plates on the surgical tape and are used to get an ECG signal.

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.

Figure 6

This new form of smart clothing integrates dry ECG sensor technology, advanced signal processing, motion sensor, temperature sensor, microcontroller and wireless SoC. (Source: Maxim Integrated)

This new form of smart clothing integrates dry ECG sensor technology, advanced signal processing, motion sensor, temperature sensor, microcontroller and wireless SoC.
(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.

Figure 7

The very compact design in the i'm Watch with STMicro sensors (Source: STMicro)

The very compact design in the i'm Watch with STMicro sensors
(Source: STMicro)

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?

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8 comments on “CES Trends: You Can Wear Your Integrated Analog

  1. Netcrawl
    January 13, 2014

    @Steve that was great! smart devices and gadgets are making their way into our bodies, the rise of wearble technology like smartwatch is taking CES by storm, with major tech companies like LG, Samsung and Sony making their own way into the market. I think wearable technology has a lots of potential, but to explore that potential fully companies need to do more and go much deeper, its a new category in electronics market. 

  2. Karl Wiklund
    January 13, 2014

    I went as an exhibitor.  The technology behind wearable devices (i.e. sensors, connectivity, etc) is quite impressive, and I definitely want to follow up with some of the literature I picked up. That said, I was not terribly enthusiastic about many of the wearables that I actually saw.  Most of the devices seemed to lack any key quality of desirability outside of maybe some niche users.

  3. Davidled
    January 13, 2014

    ->Lack any key quality of desirability.

    I saw some product through internet. If I understand correctly, do you mean that most gadgets may get lack of durability for key functions? Generally speaking, I think that key features are mainly focused by each company.  

  4. eafpres
    January 13, 2014

    @Steve–thanks for a peek into the scrambled brains of the marketing folks.  Generally, it seems they are pushing internet of everything, wearable sensors, and disposable electronics.  So what happens if Everything is connected via disposable sensors including our clothes?  Well, volumes of certain components will certainly benefit.  So it is a battle for mindshare, the big guys tossing stuff out there, little guys trying, hoping, to find that killer application.

    On the one hand, if a reasonable ECG could be taken with very low cost disposable electronics, that would be great as emergency care centers might not have to buy, maintain, repair, and replace expensive equipment.  On the other hand, a monitor that I would wear to bed so somebody can sell me on how to improve my slumber is a bit much, for me.  

    I did have a thought today about integration of sensors and software that could benefit humanity.  It occurs to me that IoE technology that could monitor foodstuffs and not only keep track of what is used and what is left, but add imagaing (perhaps hyperspectral imaging) to determine if it is spoiled or not, could be enabling for sight impaired persons trying to be more independent.  Likewise monitors that knew what was in various drawere or cabinets, and perhaps could talk (only when spoken to!) might also be really useful.  My mind is spinning with products that could really serve a greater good, vs. just creating more stuff heading to the landfill marketed to copious consumers.

  5. Steve Taranovich
    January 13, 2014

    I agree Blaine—the real appications are only limited by our imagination and creativity for the betterment of humanity

  6. etnapowers
    January 14, 2014

    “a strong trend toward a high level of integration, especially in wearables”

    @Steve: I think that this trend will continue because there is a great interest of the electronics companies in this applications who integrate many sensors in a macro-system. There  are many different possible scenarios, the feasibility of each solution is related to reliability granting and to feasibility.

     

  7. RedDerek
    January 14, 2014

    @Netcrawl – …are making their way into our bodies, the

    “INTO” is quite an invasive thing that I would like to avoid. My biggest concern is the power side of all this wearable and the washability of the clothing.

    How about a clothes washwer that when you throw your wearable electronic shirt in, it will recharge the batteries via RF as it cleans?

  8. David Maciel Silva
    January 31, 2014

    NET fully agree with you,

    I did not think I have ever been on prototypes, as if there will be … How do NET put large companies will find the way and spread even more technology.

    I hope it becomes a technology accessible to all …

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