Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Maxim platforms help designers create health wearables

Steve Rogerson
July 10, 2018

Californian electronics company Maxim has created two platforms to help designers extract vital signs and raw data for their wearable products.
The Max-Health-Band uses embedded algorithms to provide vital signs and raw data; the Max-ECG-Monitor tracks ECG and heart-rate signals.
The Max-Health-Band evaluation and development platform, a wrist-worn heart-rate and activity monitor, features the Max 86140 optical pulse-oximeter and heart-rate sensor, the Max 20303 wearable power-manager and the company’s motion-compensated algorithms.
The Max-ECG-Monitor evaluation and development platform uses the Max 30003 low-power, clinical-grade analogue front end (AFE), which monitors ECG and heart-rate signals. It comes in two form factors – a wet electrode patch for clinical applications and a chest strap for fitness applications.
"With these end applications, software companies and start-ups can significantly accelerate time to market by using them right out of the box," said Andrew Baker, executive director at Maxim Integrated. "The Max-Health-Band, for example, is complete, allowing customers to design a heart-rate and activity monitor in its entirety – using either their own algorithms or the one we created for them."
Many designers struggle to develop good optical heart-rate products for health and fitness wearables. This is primarily due to the complexity involved in designing good optical products and motion-compensated algorithms, which slows down the design process. Designers must also consider customer expectations such as comfort, longer battery life and reliable accuracy. The evaluation and development platforms can solve these problems.
Eliminating up to six months of design time which is typically required for building and prototyping, the Max-Health-Band heart-rate and activity tracker demonstrates system-level performance at the IC level and can be used to evaluate AFEs and power-management ICs. It includes motion-compensated algorithms to extract useful data for health and fitness applications based on photoplethysmography signals.
In addition, it streams algorithm output and raw data from the health sensors via Bluetooth onto a smartphone app for algorithm development. Algorithm output data provided include heart rate, heart-rate variability, step count and activity classification. For accuracy, the heart-rate and activity monitor collects beat-to-beat physiological data about the heart.
The company claims it requires less than half the power of competing products, allowing it to last for seven days on one charge. These ICs are also approximately one-third smaller to deliver a compact, comfortable form factor for consumers.
The Max-ECG-Monitor analyses data and tracks ECG and heart rate to provide insight for clinical and fitness applications. It allows developers to run their own fitness or medical ECG-based applications and algorithms. Part of the Movesense ecosystem for biometric and motion sensors, the monitor runs an open API for developing in-device apps for various ECG-based use cases showing heart-rate signals at rest or during high motion activity.
"Developers creating monitoring devices don't always have the special expertise in measurement technology, visual and mechanical industrial design, signal processing and algorithm development," said Jussi Kaasinen, business development director at Movesense. “On the other hand, consumers want comfortable wearables with long battery life and reliable accuracy. Fully productised and commercially available Movesense-based applications such as the Max-ECG-Monitor enable customers to go to market quickly, while also providing high performance and comfort."
The Max-Health-Band is available from Maxim’s web site for $200 and includes Maxim's motion-compensation algorithms as well as an Android-based app for a complete, wrist-worn activity-tracker. The Max-ECG-Monitor costs $150 and includes an ECG module that can attach to the chest for fitness applications or wet electrode patches for clinical applications. Both are available for white-box licence.