Low power Optical HRM will help next-gen of wearables

25th February 2016
Enaie Azambuja

Ambiq Micro and PixArt Imaging announced that the two companies have partnered to develop an ultra-low power HRM solution for deployment in next-gen wearable products. The fast-growing wearables market is rapidly evolving from devices that are primarily fitness-oriented to those that are intended to provide more sophisticated data and information on the health and wellbeing of users.

As a result, continuous heart-rate-monitoring functionality is increasingly becoming a key requirement for these types of devices. This presents a huge challenge for wearable developers in balancing the limited battery resource available on wearable devices and the need for continuous HRM.

The joint solution from PixArt and Ambiq Micro now truly enables the ‘always-on’ sensing functionality for makers and OEMs looking to deliver the next generation of product for wearable health and wellness applications. Delivering a world-class power consumption figure of less than 350µA total power in continuous operation, the solution combines Ambiq Micro’s advanced Apollo ARM M4 with floating point unit MCU, which acts as the main processor in this advanced HRM solution, together with PixArt’s unique CMOS-sensor-based Heart Rate Monitor Family.

PixArt’s Heart Rate Monitor sensor deploys the photoplethysmogram (PPG) technique, which transmits LED light waves into the skin of the user and measures the response change caused by absorption due to pulsating arterial blood. Outputting captured PPG data from the user, these measurements can be used to monitor heart rate and stress levels.

Sen Huang, CEO, PixArt Imaging, said: “PixArt’s vision and commitment to the wellness market is deeply rooted from our proven CMOS optical sensor solution in HMI. The 800X HRM sensor family represents incredibly small packaged solution, ultra-low power and rapid deployment for the wearable markets.”

Keith Odland, Senior Director of Marketing, Ambiq Micro, said: “Until now, always-on heart rate monitoring has been a much talked about feature but one that is not practical to implement due to the large amount of power it consumes. By utilising our best-in-class hardware paired with highly optimised software, Ambiq and PixArt have achieved HRM power consumption levels that are not only one of the best in the industry, but deliver on the promise of always-on HRM.”

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