“With the continuous innovation of wearable sensors and the application of advanced technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality in wearable products, the digitization of product services and business models has been accelerated. In the field of healthcare, the concepts of telemedicine and connected health are gradually being accepted by consumers. Therefore, people will pay more attention to the medical care and health monitoring functions of the product when purchasing wearable products.
Author: Doctor M
At the end of the year, every industry is busy counting the harvest of the previous year, and at the same time, it is looking for more potential markets. After sorting out, we found that in the past year, the entire technology industry has encountered huge challenges, and one of these markets has come out of a different market, which is the wearable Electronic device market.
According to the latest data from IDC, the global wearable device market grew by 35.1% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020, with total shipments reaching 125 million units. This surge is largely driven by two factors. On the one hand, new products from companies such as Apple and Samsung have rekindled people’s enthusiasm for popular products such as smart watches and headphones. On the other hand, affected by the epidemic, people’s outings for travel, dining and other leisure activities have drastically reduced, and spending on electronic products has increased to a certain extent in recent months, especially wearable electronic products that are closely related to health monitoring.
Figure 1: According to product types, global wearable electronic device shipments in the third quarter of 2020 (Source: IDC)
In fact, the above reasons are well understood. In the past year, people have paid more attention to their health than ever before, and we can feel this trend from CES 2021. Although this year’s CES is a “cloud” exhibition, the wearable products on Display still have many highlights. In addition to classic products such as smart watches and smart bracelets, fitness wearable products are very eye-catching. Xenoma’s e-skin EMStyle tights are very representative. This is a unique wearable product with 24 electrodes inside. It can stimulate human muscles and can achieve full body aerobic exercise in only 20 minutes. Effect.
Figure 2: Xenoma’s e-skin EMStyle tights (Source: CES)
Some conjectures about the development of wearable devices
Health and fitness tracking functions have always been the most important reasons why people choose to buy smart watches, and they are also the most commonly used functions of these devices.With the continuous innovation of technology and product applications, the product categories of wearable devices have also been greatly expanded. In addition to smart watches and smart bracelets, there will be more novel and creative products coming into us. Of life
Conjecture 1: The importance of health care and fitness functions is highlighted
With the continuous innovation of wearable sensors and the application of advanced technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality in wearable products, the digitization of product services and business models has been accelerated. In the field of healthcare, the concepts of telemedicine and connected health are gradually being accepted by consumers. Therefore, people will pay more attention to the medical care and health monitoring functions of the product when purchasing wearable products.
Now, functions such as heart rate monitoring have become the standard configuration of all wristband devices, and more advanced functions such as electrocardiogram (ECG) measurement are gradually reducing prices. Although these measurement data cannot be used as the basis for a doctor’s diagnosis, it is not a problem to use them to estimate one’s own physical condition.
Conjecture 2: Wearable devices will have more AI attributes
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) technology has developed rapidly, and people are also trying hard to add AI to everything. Now, voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa have appeared in places other than mobile phones and smart home devices, such as wearable devices, which have the potential to become another important application area of AI.
Right now, Facebook and other companies are competing to develop brain-computer interfaces. In theory, it allows humans to update Facebook’s status with only their brains and hands. The effect is a bit similar to what we often call telepathy. According to another report, Elon Musk’s Neuralink company is developing a brain-computer interface that, with the help of wearable devices, can enable people with severe brain damage to achieve basic self-care.
Conjecture 3: 5G popularization promotes direct networking of wearable devices
With the further popularization of 5G technology, direct networking of wearable devices is no longer a dream. At that time, smart watches can be directly connected to the network without having to use a smart phone. For children and elderly users, this function is very suitable for their use needs. On the one hand, wearable devices can monitor the health of users, and on the other hand, they can easily get in touch with family members. At that time, wearable devices will get rid of the product positioning of auxiliary devices, and then become an independent entrance to the Internet of Things.
Conjecture 4: Wearable device data security is becoming more and more important
With the rapid development of the market, challenges are everywhere. The first thing to do is to bear the brunt of data security. Because wearable devices create a lot of data on wearers every day, especially the higher our acceptance of wearable devices, the more data will be generated. Therefore, wearable solution providers need to adopt more advanced technical measures to protect data privacy.
Conjecture 5: More efforts should be made to improve energy efficiency
Anyone who owns a wearable device has a deep understanding of the energy efficiency of the product. After all, what consumers want is a high-performance device that can integrate more functions, but it must not be charged every hour. Low power consumption should be the first important consideration for enterprises in the development of new products.
A hundred flowers blooming wearable solutions
According to the forecast of IDC and other institutions, wearable devices will usher in explosive growth in 2021, and global shipments are expected to exceed 500 million units. The rising wearable device market has brought business opportunities for enterprises, and a competition about wearable technology is also quietly going on. Among them are many innovative start-ups, and of course there are also a large number of well-known large companies in the industry, such as STMicroelectronics (STMicroelectronics), Infineon (Infineon), TI, ADI, NXP (NXP), TE, Bosch Wait.
ADI: specializes in wearable monitoring solutions with diagnostic performance
Medical and health is an industry where ADI continues to work hard, and the company’s wearable technology and solutions are also closely focused on this field. From the information disclosed by ADI, they believe that remote monitoring and smart wearables with clinical-level health monitoring functions will show explosive growth. At that time, consumers with potential health risks only need to wear some portable monitoring equipment for ECG and blood oxygen, and doctors can remotely judge the health of patients.
In terms of wearable technology, ADI provides a package solution, which can also be said to be a complete system-level solution. The biggest feature of the solution is low power consumption, diagnostic performance, high integration/small size. Involving sensors, analog signal processing, digital signal processing, wireless communication and other chips, development tools, algorithms, etc. are also included.
Figure 3: ADI wearable healthcare equipment system block diagram
STMicroelectronics: A smart bracelet that monitors social distance is cost-effective and practical
STMicroelectronics (STMicroelectronics) wearable device solutions are relatively rich, the popular smart watches, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, sports equipment, etc. on the market, they can provide complete reference designs, and evaluation tools and software for User choice.
In June last year, ST launched a compact and cost-effective wearable device reference design that can realize remote configuration activation, notification prompts and anti-data tampering functions. If there are special needs, it can also provide contact traceability. This solution is suitable for smart bracelets and bracelets designed to be used in open or closed working environments such as factories, offices, and medical institutions, and can be used to monitor the social distance of personnel during the epidemic.
In this solution, the ultra-low-power BlueNRG-2 system chip with adjustable RF output power is used in conjunction with its S2-LP sub-1 GHz ultra-low-power RF transceiver. Through the Sigfox “0G” global network, this basic model The reference design can also increase the two-way communication function between the tag and the cloud, supporting private and anonymous tag configuration, notification, and an alarm loop for emergency notification. In order to save energy and power and extend battery life, a MEMS accelerometer is added to the ultra-low power components to turn off the power when the device is not moving.
Figure 4: ST social distance monitoring reference design
TI: Dozens of reference designs strive to cover more wearable applications
Wearable devices occupies an important place in the personal electronic product solutions provided by TI. For this application field, there are more than 70 reference designs published on TI’s official website, covering sensing, front-end, control, wireless connection, data conversion, audio, DLP, etc. The editor thinks TIDA-01580 is necessary to come out and talk about it. Because this is a reference design used to create a new generation of wireless patient monitors, it is in line with the current market needs.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) or photoplethysmography (PPG) wearable monitoring systems have become more and more popular in recent years. Wearable monitors can significantly improve patient comfort and mobility by replacing long and bulky wires with inconspicuous dry electrodes.
Figure 5: TI’s ECG or PPG wearable monitoring system reference design (Source: TI)
Figure 5 is a wearable, wireless, multi-parameter patient monitor reference design that TI uses the AFE4900 single-chip biosensing front-end to perform simultaneous ECG and PPG measurements. The reference design integrates a flexible LED driver and a complete photodiode receiver chain, and communicates with the CC2640R2F SimpleLink Bluetooth low energy wireless MCU with integrated RF transceiver through the serial peripheral interface (SPI) (or I2C).
After more than ten years of development, wearable technology has made great progress. In software, advanced machine learning algorithms allow simple sensor inputs to be converted into more maneuverable health or activity data. In hardware, the size of the chip is becoming smaller and smaller, and the performance is getting higher and higher, which is very conducive to the design of wearable devices.
In addition, the implementation of wireless communication technologies such as flexible screens, smart sensors, and Bluetooth low energy has strongly promoted the replacement of wearable devices. Wearable devices are becoming an application field that gathers many cutting-edge technologies. Looking back on the wearable device market in the past few years, I feel that everything was “wearable” at that time. The big waves are scouring the sand, and now the market is becoming more rational. The wearable electronics market is about to usher in its bright moment.