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Signal processor enables wearable biomedical sensor systems

Posted: 03 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CoolBio? biomedical sensor? ECG algorithm?

IMEC, Holst Centre and NXP Semiconductors have co-developed the CoolBio, a biomedical signal processor for wearable biomedical sensor systems. The device consumes 13pJ/cycle when running a complex electrocardiogram (ECG) algorithm at 1MHz and 0.4V operating voltage. The chip is C-programmable and voltage and performance scalable supporting a frequency range of 1MHz up to 100MHz with an operating voltage from 0.4V to 1.2V.

Intelligent body area networks (BANs) allow people to be monitored and followed up at home, doing their daily life activities. These consist of wireless sensors nodes which continuously monitor vital body parameters such as heart, muscle and brain activity, and hold much promise as a solution for more comfortable, cost- and time-efficient healthcare systems.

However, a major challenge in developing BANs is to bring overall power consumption down to a level where the system can be powered by energy harvesting or a microbattery that runs for months.

CoolBio is a flexible ultra low power bioprocessor.

The CoolBio allows strong power reduction of the wireless BAN sensor nodes. Processing and compressing data locally on the BAN node limits power hungry transmission of data over the wireless link, while adding motion artifact reduction and smart diagnosis at the same time.

The companies started from the commercially available low power CoolFluxTM DSP baseband core from NXP to design an ultra-low power flexible processor solution for BANs applications. The architecture and circuitry were adapted to operate at near-threshold voltage (0.4V) at low operating frequencies. Using extreme separation into multiple voltage power, clock and memory domains were implemented to guarantee high energy efficiency from standby to 100MHz performance. The result means reduced power consumption at low operating frequency, while maintaining high performance possibilities for multichannel biomedical signal processing.

Medical device companies, semiconductor manufacturers and fabless design houses who aim to evaluate the CoolBio or to develop their own bioprocessor can join IMEC's research program on ultra body area networks, part of the HUMAN++ program.

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