Wearable Devices: Mixed Signal ASICs at the Core

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Wearable Devices: Mixed Signal ASICs at the Core

If you're developing for wearables, you're facing tight constraints. But application-specific integrated circuits offer solutions to several hardware concerns.

· IoT Zone ·
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The current development in wearable devices is nothing short of remarkable. With worldwide shipments of wearables to surpass 200 million in 2019, the industry is heading for a transformation. As the market picks up space, ultra-low power and ultra-small size become the most important aspects of embedded sensors and accelerometers. The popularity of 1x1mm dies is growing, allowing more room for larger batteries in wearables. By incorporating modern technologies in the ASIC design itself, semiconductor companies are helping extend the battery life of various wearables such as fitness, health monitoring, and activity-tracking wearables from hours or days, to weeks or months.

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The Challenge of Designing Wearables

Wearable sensors present a unique set of challenges in designing the products of tomorrow: from having to integrate sensors and processing signals to ensuring low power consumption and enabling wireless communication — and embedding all this into miniature packages, while maximizing battery life.

ASICs to the Rescue

The use of standard components in designing wearables makes it difficult for designers to meet onboard signal processing requirements, along with small size, low power, and low cost. This is where ASICs come into the picture:

  • Mixed signal ASICs enable wearable manufacturers to achieve the required size, weight, and power requirements for their devices.

  • With patented, reconfigurable wearable technology, you can get your product to market faster and at a reduced development cost.

  • By combining mixed-signal ASIC(FPGA) design expertise and a rich library of IPs, semiconductor companies are delivering full-custom IC performance with rapid reconfigurability.

  • Reconfigurable ASICs enable you to create derivative versions of the ASIC and have new devices made in a shorter span of time.

  • High-precision, ultra-low power mixed-signal ASICs can be developed using a rich library of building blocks that are optimized for medical, fitness, and other wearable technology applications.

  • Some of the most popular IPs include:

  1. Fully differential amplifiers

  2. Programmable switched capacitor filters

  3. Temperature sensors

  4. Power management

  5. High voltage circuits

  6. Digital controllers

  7. Serial communication

  8. Internal oscillators

  9. Onboard PLL

  10. Bluetooth low energy transceivers

  11. Embedded microcontrollers

The ASIC Advantage

So what do ASICS enable you to achieve?

Substantially Low Power

By using ASICs (and redesigning them), semiconductor companies can fulfill the growing needs of wearable manufacturers worldwide.

  • Modern ASICs offer various power modes for different usage criteria; these modes help in substantially reducing power consumption of wearables, and thus offering longer battery life.

  • You can adjust the sample rate of the ASIC and adjust the resolution based on the requirement, offering a spectrum of options for saving the maximum amount of power while meeting the specifications of your device.

    • For instance, when a wearable device is set down, the accelerometer senses the condition and automatically sends the device into low-power mode.

    • When it is picked back up, the ASIC responds fast enough to shift to the normal mode even before the user wears it on his/her body.

Improved Location Service

Modern ASICS have the capability to provide more accurate location services in wearable gadgets while using less power than most GPS tracker devices.

  • The built-in ARC processor core with a custom instruction set, ROM with embedded algorithms, and a sophisticated filter provides the required tracking data.

  • Sensor-based tracking ASICs deliver fine-resolution, step-by-step tracking without requiring GPS; the embedded processing power and military-grade algorithms provide accurate tracking to wearable device users, using just a fraction trace of the power that GPS demands.

    • These ASICs override and deactivate power-hungry GPS when not needed, while simultaneously providing continuous, reliable tracking data.

    • The proprietary algorithms know when to use the inbuilt tracking feature, and when to switch to GPS; by relying on inertial sensor data, the tracking algorithms demand less battery.

wearable devices ,iot ,asic

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