Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Sensors take wearables into preventative health zone

Steve Rogerson
December 5, 2017

Californian electronics company Maxim has introduced sensors that can help wearables handle preventive health and fitness applications. The optical pulse oximeter and heart rate sensors and ECG and BioZ devices are said to deliver accurate, continuous monitoring while consuming low power.
Engineers will be able to design preventive healthcare and continuous monitoring wearable health and fitness applications with the Max 86140 and 86141 optical pulse oximeter and heart rate sensors and the 30001 electrocardiogram (ECG) and bioimpedance (BioZ) analogue front end (AFE) products.
These devices are said to enable accurate monitoring of vital signs to monitor wellness and fitness and prevent health problems before they begin.
Today's continuous monitoring technology is shifting the consumer mindset away from a reactive monitoring approach to a proactive one. Rather than waiting for yearly doctor visits to get results for blood pressure and other vital signs, consumers want real-time information about the status of their health. This shift is causing an increased demand for accurate, small and low-power wearable devices, an important enabler for this new way of thinking. As continuous monitoring and preventive healthcare become more common, both technology providers and health practitioners must embrace and accommodate these new demands to be successful.
Maxim's portfolio of sensors for wearable health and fitness applications allows consumers to monitor accurately a variety of key vital signs while being mindful of low power for longer battery life and small size for convenience and comfort.
"The convergence of clinical grade diagnostics in form factors small enough to integrate into all sorts of smart, everyday clothing is impressive," said Adrian Straka, director of hardware and manufacturing at Skiin. "The ultra-small Max 30001 enables Skiin's bio-sensing underwear to monitor and track health metrics 24 hours a day, seven days a week in low power operation."
The Max 86140 and 86141 can be used to measure PPG signals on the wrist, finger and ear to detect heart rate, heart rate variability and pulse oximetry. The Max 30001 measures ECG and BioZ on the chest and wrist to detect heart rate, respiration and arrhythmias.
The 86140 and 86141 are claimed to require less than half the power and are approximately one third smaller than competing products, while the 30001 requires approximately half the power in almost half the size.
By collecting beat-to-beat data about the heart, they collect accurate information so users can recognise important symptoms when they first begin. In addition, the 30001 meets IEC60601-2-47, clinical ECG standards.
"With unmatched power, as well as ultra-small form factor and high accuracy, our robust portfolio of sensors will enable our customers to succeed in this market," said Andrew Baker, executive director at Maxim Integrated.
Texas-based Silicon Labs has introduced a family of optical biometric sensors providing heart rate monitoring along with ECG capabilities for a wide range of wearable fitness and wellness products. The Si117x sensor modules combine low power, high sensitivity and integration, making them suitable for smart watches and wrist-based, patch-type and other wearables requiring long battery life and enhanced accuracy.