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Wearables uptake hindered by power issues

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel? wearable? smart watch? sensor? MEMS?

The MEMS Industry Group has sponsored the "Sensors and MEMS Technology" track at the CES 2015 that underlines how all things MEMS offer greater functionality in smaller, more power-efficient wearable Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

"MEMS/sensors are the frontline 'edge' device collecting the raw data from the environment, such as pressure and temperature, or human body data, such as number of steps taken and heart rate," said Stephen Whalley, chief strategy officer at MIG. "In wearable devices and IoT applications such as smart homes, buildings, cities and vehicles, they usually form a sensing cluster around the application processor, feeding it with every sensory change taking place. That data is then processed using algorithms to make sense of it so that humans or machines can react appropriately."

Panel members at the Sensors and MEMS Technology track at the CES 201

Panel members of the "Getting to Low Power and Maximum Functionality through Sensor Fusion" at the "Sensors and MEMS Technology" track at the CES 2015 from left, moderator (standing) Stephen Whalley, chief strategy officer at MEMS Industry Group; Becky Oh, CEO of PNI Sensor; Behrooz Abdi, CEO at InvenSense; Stefan Finkbeiner, CEO and GM of Bosch Sensortec; Timothy Saxe, CTO of QuickLogic; and Benedetto Vigna, EVP and GM, analogue, MEMS & sensors group at ST. (Source: MIG)

Wearable strategies are all over the map, said Steve Holmes, VP of the new devices group and GM of the smart device innovation group at Intel.

One of the biggest problems with keeping them powered, because they are usually always-on and thus need to constantly stay charged to be useful. Besides the technical side, according to Holmes three things define wearables in 2015: "intimacy, immediacy and persistence."

Intimacy, he said, means you keep them close to you, but discretely, such as in the Synapse Dress, which debuted at the 2014 Intel Development Forum, but which was created by the Dutch fashion-tech designer, Anouk Wipprecht, in collaboration with Italian architect Niccolo Casas who specialises in 3D printing. The dress sensed the electrical impulses it wearer changing its brightness in response to whether the wearer is tense or relaxed.

Holmes described some of the novel products submitted to Intel's Make It Wearable challenge with a grand prize of $500,000 going to a wearable flyable quad-copter that can be worn on the wrist.

During the day long MEMS conference at CES, the tracks concentrated on powering wearable included tracks on "Transforming Wearables through Bluetooth Smart," "Beyond Audio with Biometric Earbuds," "Wearables: A Very Real Market Opportunity," "MEMS and Sensors for a Smart IoT," "Waiting for the Holy Grail: Clinically Accurate, Contextual and Continuous Data," and "The Dynamic Duo: Wearables and People Analytics."

The final panel, moderated by Whalley, "Getting to Low Power and Maximum Functionality through Sensor Fusion" focused on how consumers are demanding greater functionality in smaller, more power-efficient wearables. The panel members discussed many diverse approaches to meet this challenge including more sophisticated hardware/software sensor fusion, integrating smarter 'sensor hubs' and how can OEMs and embedded systems integrators (ESIs) can take full advantage of MEMS and other sensors in their wearable devices.

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