Anyone who's turned on their wearable MP3 player and took off on a morning run is cognizant of the importance of a power source. Before you take off, you check the power indicator to ensure that the device has the juice to keep playing your music, podcast, or audiobook.
Power is ... power.
Since the beginning of wearable and hearable technology, design engineers have kept power in mind when developing devices. The market for these consumer devices is expected to double by 2025, according to a 2020 Yole Développement study.
The study determined that micro-electro-mechanical-based systems are still key for miniaturization and power-consumption optimization. The analysis also noted that consumer wearables are reinforcing their presence in the medical sector.
Designers are developing healthcare devices such as smart jewelry to administer insulin and for cardiac monitoring, swallowable devices to detect diseases, and stretchable sensors for heart health and post-operative monitoring.
It all plays into the strength of design engineers, who will create, innovate, and develop power source solutions, to keep the technology advancing.
In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at wearable technology from Maxim Integrated, Semtech, and STMicroelectronics.
For ultra low-power wearable and Internet of Things devices, the Maxim Integrated MAX20303 Wearable Power Management Solutio has a flexible set of power-optimized voltage regulators. The device can be configured through an I2C interface that allows for programming various functions and reading-device status, including the ability to read temperature and supply voltages. The MAX20303 includes a complete battery management solution, including a fuel gauge that simulates the internal, nonlinear dynamics of a Li+ battery to determine its State of Charge (SOC).
Designers looking for capacitive controllers used in wearable and hearable applications where size, power consumption, and small sensors matter can turn to the Semtech SX9210 Smart Proximity Sensor for Wearables. The SX9210 uses up to three capacitive sensor inputs in addition to the Smart Sense Engine for features such as in-ear detection, on-table detection, and proximity detection. The SX9210 sensor can turn itself off, play or pause and change the volume.
The STMicroelectronics LSM6DSO32XTR iNEMO Inertial Module is a durable choice for wearable designers. The module combines its always-on low-power features with sensing precision for optimal motion experience in wearable, hard-fall detection, navigation, and asset-tracking apps. They're ideal for smartwatches, sports equipment, motion tracking, gesture detection, and hard-fall detection. The accelerometer features smart sleep-to-wake-up (activity) and return-to-sleep (inactivity) functions that save power. The device also incorporates machine-learning Core logic, which identifies whether a data pattern matches a user-defined set of classes. A common example of an application can be activity detection such as running, walking, or driving.
The sky is the limit on the design and development of wearable and hearable devices, which studies such as Yole Développement confirm. Manufacturers are creating power solutions, and design engineers are developing and optimizing the power within these products to create innovative devices to advance the technology.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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