Combination technology driving the future of wearable tech

Combination technology driving the future of wearable techWe are all moving to a future where the fast, continuing innovation in wearable technology is allowing humans to converge with the environment around them, driving a more interactive, intuitive and optimised experience.

Wearable technology is often associated with smart watches and fitness devices, but we are also seeing many emerging markets using wearable technology to gather intelligent insight, including smart apparel, digital healthcare and personal safety.

While consumers are focused on increased convenience and health, industrial applications for smart wearable devices have different drivers. For example, the connected shoe that uses a small cellular solution improves the safety of remote workers. With an integrated GPS device in the sole, these shoes have potentially lifesaving benefits for workers in harsh or difficult environments, as personnel can monitor the location, health and safety of employees working remotely.

The right balance

The growth opportunities in the wearable market bring evolving design challenges to meet the requirements for wearable technology. Devices are expected to be small (in some cases discreet), lightweight and have long battery life – for many, a key factor when choosing a wearable device. In some instances, the technology needs to be robust as well as sensitive to pressure, temperature and humidity.

The great news for application designers is that there are flexible components that enable intelligent design. For example, where a preferred GPS module may be too large to fit into a wearable device, a flexible PCB may solve the size and weight issue. This design feature also has the added benefit of enhancing performance of the chip by reducing EMI from surrounding components.

The technology behind the device

Combined technology solutions are becoming more prevalent to meet the compact needs of application designers. Technology standards, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, have been combined by manufacturers for some time now to meet the ever-increasing demands and expansion of the wearable market, but they are now going beyond this by mixing other technologies to meet designers' needs.

Airoha, the IoT solutions subsidiary of global technology giant MediaTek, produce a highly integrated chip which includes both dual-mode Bluetooth and GNSS location intelligence, within one compact solution. The Airoha MT2523G can add Bluetooth with location intelligence from an integrated GPS receiver to your design.

Chip-based solutions – System in Package (SiP) and System on Chip (SoC) – are the most effective way of saving board space to either reduce the overall size of the device or provide capacity to add more technology within an existing footprint. The BM-GP-BR-65 from USI, for example, can add Bluetooth low energy functionality in a package that measures just 16.5 x 10.0 x 1.9 mm.

OriginGPS produce some of the smallest GPS and GNSS solutions available in the market today, such as the Nano Spider. These solutions provide superior location intelligence to a design, but still small enough to fit into a smart watch.

Find out more about our complete IoT offer, including a range of sensors, wireless modules, SiP and airtime solutions here.

Airoha MT2523GUSI BM-GP-BR-65OriginGPS Nanospider

Get more from your design

One common misconception is that a Front End Module (FEM) is only used to extend the range of a wireless solution, but it can also boost the total performance of the chosen SoC. Adding a FEM to a design can lower power consumption, allowing the SoC to operate more efficiently within nominal tasks or boosted to deliver more performance. Increased efficiency reduces power consumption, enabling battery-powered devices to operate for longer on a single charge. As FEMs are multi-chip modules, they can also be used in place of multiple components, reducing the overall BOM and simplifying the design.

We offer a range of FEM’s through our partner Skyworks, which are ideal for such applications, designed with industry leading power amplifier, low noise and switch functions into single low cost multi-chip modules. To contact us about these or find out more, click here.

Start your IoT journey here

From sensors to the cloud – everything you need to succeed in the Internet of ThingsFrom sensors to the cloud, we cover everything you need for any IoT design. Find out how our specialist portfolio, expertise and custom services can help bring your design to market.

Turning great ideas into customer successes

Turning great ideas into customer success – how Acal BFi are solving IoT design challengesDiscover how our close partnerships, innovation and technical design expertise has helped to solve customers' design challenges and made the impossible possible.

Get in touch

Do you have any challenging requirements, specific design needs or need technical advice? Contact us today to bring your concept into reality.

Custom shapes and sizes, limited only by the engineer’s imagination

Micrometals and Acal BFi. Micrometals are one of the world leaders in the production of high quality, low-cost iron-powder cores - offering an unrivalled customisation service.

read more

Finding the solution to challenging high-frequency requirements with established materials

Discover how your magnetic component designs and applications can benefit from carbonyl iron powder - Using a tried-and-tested material from a different sector.

read more

We put the power in your industrial application

Our portfolio covers every possible power supply scenario. From creating your own bespoke power supply with SynQor bricks, to flexible, user-configurable modular products from Excelsys, internal open-frame designs from SL Power to cost-effective, plug-and-play external supplies from Cincon, we put the power in your industrial application.

read more