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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

New Tech Tuesdays: Wearables Are Keeping Designers Busy with Innovations Tommy Cummings

New Tech Tuesdays

Join journalist Tommy Cummings for a weekly look at all things interesting, new, and noteworthy for design engineers.

The rise of the wearables market means device designers should have plenty of ways to be creative.

In a recent study1, researchers found that wearing fitness and health-tracking devices can help users become more active and manage their health.

But wearables also include use-cases such as consumer electronics, smart footwear and apparel, manufacturing and workplace safety, and global positioning system trackers. These devices can take the form of watches, wristbands, glasses, earphones, and rings.

The market has also introduced non-invasive wearables to administer medications remotely, wean people from smoking, and monitor blood sugar, heart rate, and other vital signs.

Designers also have been stepping up in the creation of millions of data-driven devices on the market today. But these designers also face challenges with smaller screen space, less information density, and limited battery life that impact innovation.

Designers must strive for glanceability, context, lightweight interactions, simplicity, minimalistic interfaces, privacy, and more2.

In this week's New Tech Tuesdays, we'll look at products from Maxim Integrated, Renesas / IDT, and Qorvo that designers can use in wearable development.

Sensors, Eval Kits, and Low Power ICs

Maxim Integrated's MAX32663A Ultra-Low Power ECG Biometric Sensor Hub delivers health information and insights to an application. The device has embedded firmware and HeartKey® ECG algorithms from B-Secur for wearable and medical devices. The MAX32663A works with Maxim's low-power ECG sensors such as the MAX30003. Designers can choose from three versions of the sensor: FS (full HeartKey® Suite), W (health and wellness), and UI (user identification). The sensors also come in a tiny form factor (3mm x 3mm TQFN and 1.6mm x 1.6mm WLP) for footprint-constrained designs.

Renesas / IDT OB1203SD Evaluation Kits test OB1203 sensor modules. These Integrated Concept Engine (ICE) kits include BLUETOOTH® with Bluetooth chips and rechargeable batteries. The ICE hardware performs reflective, non-invasive measurements (for example: at the fingertip), and transmits the data via Bluetooth Low Energy to a smartphone or tablet, where the Heart Rate (HR) and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) are measured by an Android app. During this process, the proximity sensor function keeps the measurement running if a finger is detected. These evaluation kits are used in applications such as mobile devices, headphones, hearables, fitness, occupancy, and gesture detection.

Qorvo's ACT81460VM101 Low Power Power Management IC (PMIC) is suitable for various processor applications and is designed for battery-operated systems. This PMIC includes a low standby current that prolongs battery life between charges, especially in applications that require long standby or low-power mode durations. The modules enhance battery run time during normal operating modes. They're ideal for use in consumer or medical wearables, battery-operated personal devices, Internet of Things modules, and cameras and DVRs.

Tuesday's Takeaway

Studies reflect that fitness and health-tracking devices are helping their users become healthier. The types of data-driven wearables also range from consumer electronics and clothing to GPS and more. As options for wearables continue to grow, designers will find opportunities for innovation.



  • 1. Gonzalez, Georgina. “Wearables Found to Be Effective at Improving User Health,” July 27, 2022. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/.
  • 2. Babich, Nick. “Designing for Wearables: 11 Things To Keep in Mind,” October 11, 2019. https://xd.adobe.com/.

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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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