What are the current trends in wearables?

24th September 2019
Alex Lynn

Answering some questions on the new Samsung Galaxy Fit/DA1469x, Rahul Todi, Senior Product Marketing Engineer, Dialog Semiconductor has offered his expertise. Today, there are numerous fitness/wearable products on the market geared toward improving our wellbeing, or at least giving us more insight into it.

Fitness trackers and sport watches are segments where we can expect to see growth over the next few years. We’ll see design enhancements including larger and improved colour displays with longer battery lifetimes.

We expect that these products will also enable a longer list of fitness-related features such as 24hr heart rate monitoring, stress and sleep tracking, the ability to track more niche activities such as swimming and golf, GPS tracking, music and more. When it comes to achieving these complete feature sets, Bluetooth Low Energy will continue to be crucial in keeping these devices up and running.

Smart watches are another trend to watch within wearable technology, now that nearly every major brand has introduced its own smart watch to the market. Smart watches typically incorporate a combination of BLE and WiFi to enable seamless wireless connectivity. We expect that we will continue to see the market expand with even more features and settings within these devices over the next few years. 

What was the main driver behind the development of the DA1469x? 

The main driver behind the development of the DA1469x was to maintain Dialog’s leadership position in the wearable technology segment. Our team conducted meticulous market and competitive analyses and collected detailed feedback from major players in the wearable industry. We took these findings and used them to architect the DA1469x, incorporating our learnings from prior devices such as the DA1468x that also targeted the wearable market. 

What are the details of Dialog’s design win with the Samsung Galaxy Fit? 

This summer we announced that Samsung implemented our DA14697 wireless microcontroller unit in its latest Galaxy Fit. This win builds on the relationship Dialog had previously established with Samsung in the Low Power Wireless connectivity space. Samsung was among the few alpha customers to gain early access to our DA1469x platform, enabling early development to meet their time to market needs. 

A great deal of time and effort from both Dialog and Samsung’s teams was put forth to create this product. We had to overcome several challenges including optimising technical details, production line quality and supply chain timelines, but in the end, we created a product that we are proud of. 

As it was designed to be easy for users to interact with while on the go, the Galaxy Fit required a solution that would both support seamless smartphone connectivity while also conserving energy to extend battery life. 

With Dialog’s DA14697 wireless microcontroller unit, which is a part of the SmartBond DA1469x product family, it is ideal for wearable devices. The collaboration with Samsung highlights how low power Bluetooth connectivity and best-in-class power consumption features enable connected living. 

What are the key features of the DA1469x? And what sets it apart from its competitors? 

The DA1469x is our flagship product within the BLE portfolio at Dialog. It is our most advanced, feature-rich line of Bluetooth low energy SoCs. With greater processing power, resources, range and battery life, the DA1469x builds upon the foundation laid by Dialog’s previous SmartBond products. 

When it comes to other devices on the market, what sets the DA1469x apart is the amount of integration and value it creates for its customers, especially as a family of four products (DA14691/95/97/99). The DA14691 and DA14695 are positioned to be the most powerful broad market wireless microcontroller units while the DA14697 and DA14699 aim to capture verticals such as wearable technology.

To provide the devices’ processing power, the DA1469x product family is the first wireless microcontroller in production with a dedicated application processor based on the ARM Cortex-M33 processor. The M33 offers developers greater processing power for more intensive applications, such as high-end fitness trackers, advanced smart home devices and virtual reality game controllers.

On the connectivity front, an emerging application is for manufacturers to deploy accurate positioning through the Angle of Arrival and Angle of Departure features of the newly introduced Bluetooth 5.1 standard. With its world-class radio front end performance and configurable protocol engine, the DA1469x complies with this new version of the standard and opens new opportunities for devices that require accurate indoor positioning such as building access and remote keyless entry systems.

Additionally, the DA169x product family comes equipped with a range of key value-add interfaces including a display driver, an audio interface, USB, a high-accuracy ADC, a haptic driver capable of driving both ERM and LRA motors as well as a programmable stepping motor controller.

Do you see further design wins for the DA1469x across other wearables and manufacturers?

We are very proud of the Samsung Galaxy Fit win. Currently, we are in touch with majority of the top five to ten players in the wearable space, and we are excited about the opportunities there. We have a healthy pipeline with one to two more wearable customers in the market using the DA1469x product family.

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