Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ActLight and OnSemi partner on heart-rate sensing

Steve Rogerson
November 22, 2016
ActLight, a Swiss photonics technology firm known for its dynamic photo diodes, has started a project to develop next generation sensors for low energy heart-rate sensing for wearable devices in co-operation with Arizona-based On Semiconductor.
"The healthcare industry is becoming more reliant on new methods to monitor and treat patients," said Jakob Nielsen, senior manager at On Semiconductor. “This – along with an increased interest in fitness and wellness – has necessitated more affordable, precise, wearable sensing options.”
He said that today's smartwatches and wearables fell short of meeting customer requirements when it comes to heart-rate measurement precision and application battery life time.
“Working with ActLight we will help to bring next generation heart-rate sensors to the market that will address these requirements and deliver a full sensing solution for integration in a multitude of med-tech and consumer electronics applications," he said.
ActLight focuses on CMOS photonics by developing a type of photodetector, known as dynamic photo diodes (DPD). A fabless company, ActLight licenses its DPD IP and provides design and technical support services to its customers.
"Our technology offers unique competitive advantages to our partners when compared to existing photo diodes used in wearable heart-rate solutions," said Serguei Okhonin, CEO of ActLight. "These include lower power consumption, simplified electronics and smaller footprint making it perfectly suited for miniaturised wearable devices. We are happy to see the support from On Semiconductor and them sharing the potential of our technology in the area of heart-rate sensing."
On Semiconductor has also introduced a modular IoT development kit (IDK) that provides engineers with hardware and software building blocks to speed the evaluation, design and implementation of medical, home and industrial IoT applications.
The company has a portfolio of power-efficient semiconductors for smart and connected IoT designs that includes sensors, power management, connectivity, processors and actuators. By combining these with a software framework, the IDK is said to provide a modular, easy to use and compact platform that provides developers with access to everything they need to develop cloud-based IoT designs.
The kit incorporates module options for sensing, wired and wireless connectivity and actuation. Its software development framework encompasses an embedded operating system – ARM MBed OS – drivers, APIs for hardware shields, a graphical user interface and sample applications code. Built-in support for cloud software enables the platform to deliver data into the cloud for value added services such as analytics.
The extensible modular architecture includes standard interfaces such as Arduino and Pmod, allowing the seamless integration of existing and future modules from On Semiconductor and third parties.
“On Semiconductor offers a one stop shop of leadership semiconductor elements for industrial, medical and home IoT applications,” said Wiren Perera, IoT strategist for On Semiconductor. “By providing a single, modular, extensible platform that combines hardware, software and support for integrating third parties, the new IDK allows engineers to quickly and easily harness the power of On Semiconductor solutions and significantly simplify the prototyping of cloud-based applications.”
The kit can support numerous application areas, including industrial automation, intelligent lighting, building automation, smart cities and a wide range of medical monitoring.