Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Hillcrest software helps manufacturers differentiate wearables

Steve Rogerson
October 6, 2015
Hillcrest Labs has introduced software to help wearable-device makers create differentiated wearable products across the health, fitness and lifestyle segments.
The Maryland, USA-based company has unveiled its MotionEngine Wear software with always-on, sensor-enabled features optimised for the latest generation of wearable devices.
It is suitable for smartwatches, activity and fitness bands, health and sleep monitors, and smart clothing. The small software footprint and low power profile suits devices targeted at the mass market, active or sports segment, commercial and industrial markets, or for fashion accessories.
“Sensors play a key role in wearable devices but how these sensors are used to deliver a compelling and convenient user experience is even more critical to the success of a wearable product today,” said Chad Lucien, senior vice president at Hillcrest Labs. “We are proud to offer our MotionEngine Wear software to manage and enhance the performance of sensors found in wearable devices – enabling high performance, low power motion-based applications, and providing the foundation for new user experiences.”
The software provides context awareness, tracks users’ daily activities such as walking, running and sleeping, and simplifies the user experience with intuitive gesture controls. Power reduction algorithms provide always-on sensing without compromising the accuracy, reliability or functionality of a wearable device.
Most notably, it is compatible with today’s widely used system architectures, including ARM Cortex-M, Cadence Tensilica Fusion DSP, and Synopsys ARC EM. It is operating system independent and can be deployed when using Android, Android Wear, Tizen, WebOS or a real-time operating system. Furthermore, it supports sensors from the leading suppliers to ensure lower costs, flexible implementations and faster time to market.
“With MotionEngine Wear, manufacturers are not locked into any one component supplier or system architecture,” said Lucien. “MotionEngine Wear therefore provides manufacturers with a highly flexible solution that enables faster time to market, product line diversity and lower costs.”
Many uses and applications exist today for wearable devices, including health and fitness, lifestyle, augmented and virtual reality, and motion capture. These categories of devices each have distinct feature requirements but share in the need to maintain low costs, reduce power consumption, and extract more performance out of the available sensors. Hillcrest has developed a portfolio of products to address these needs.
“Wearable devices are rapidly becoming more sophisticated, moving beyond simple health and fitness tracking devices to support a myriad of advanced features, from sleep monitoring to gesture recognition,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s wearables programme. “For the next generation of wearable devices, manufacturers need simple, cost-effective solutions to meet consumers’ expectations for a consistent and accurate user experience. Solutions such as Hillcrest’s MotionEngine Wear, that are compatible with a variety of low power MCUs and support sensors from leading suppliers, offer manufacturers maximum flexibility to innovate as new technologies are introduced in the wearables market.”
MotionEngine Wear offers the foundation for various wearable device applications, including:

  • Activity tracking: Algorithms specifically tuned for wearable devices can automatically track a variety of users’ daily physical activities such as walking and running steps taken and stairs climbed to provide an assessment of exercise programme effectiveness.
  • Sleep monitoring: The proprietary sleep-state algorithm uses a low sample-rate of the accelerometer to capture motion data related to users’ sleep quality and present results.
  • Context awareness: Automatic detection of when the user is in a vehicle, such as a car, or if the user is riding a bicycle to enable the user interface to adapt to different modes of use.
  • Compass heading and orientation: Calibration and sensor fusion algorithms ensure precise, drift- and jitter-free device orientation and compass heading to provide the foundation for navigation applications.
  • Intuitive gesture controls: Users can perform motion gestures to interact naturally with devices, such as the glance gesture that is used to detect when a user looks at the front-facing screen.
The product rounds out Hillcrest’s wearable product portfolio, complementing its BNO070 nine-axis system in package (SiP) that enables rapid development of sensor-enabled wearable technology and IoT devices. Co-developed by Bosch Sensortec and Hillcrest Labs, it uses Hillcrest’s proprietary SH-1 sensor hub software and accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope with a low-power 32bit ARM Cortex M0+ MCU in a small package. It is suitable for wearable virtual reality, augmented reality and motion capture applications across the consumer, commercial and industrial markets.