Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

STM and HMicro develop chip for disposable smart patches

Steve Rogerson
October 11, 2016
Swiss chip company ST Microelectronics has teamed up with wireless product developer HMicro to create what is claimed to be the industry’s first single chip for clinical-grade, single-use disposable smart patches and biosensors.
The product, HC1100, targets the five billion wired wearable sensors, such as those for vital-sign monitors and electrocardiogram leads, used annually.
“Disrupting the current wired protocols of multi-monitor use is where we believe the IoT can be most effective in the medical and industrial settings,” said Surendar Magar, CEO and co-founder of California-based HMicro. “Creating and developing a fully optimised, unique silicon platform makes possible the conversion of high-volume sensors to the equivalent wireless, disposable sensors. We aim to seamlessly cut the body wires in current clinical settings while maintaining the same clinical procedures and monitoring equipment.”
The chip is based on the WiPoint technology and a purpose-built silicon platform jointly created by HMicro and STM. It embeds three low-power radios for wifi, ultra-wideband and Medical Band (MBan), multiple sensor interfaces, an ARM Cortex-M0 application processor, 352kbyte of RAM, and power-management circuits on one chip. The dual-core Cortex-M0 architecture leverages STM low-power design technology and wireless-connectivity IP.
The multi-sensor interfaces support monitoring of heart rate, blood oxygen levels and respiration, as well as the capability to interface to MEMS microphones and motion MEMS sensors that could be used to monitor and detect patient behaviour via activity recognition.
The patent-protected specifications meet requirements for mission-critical products and functions that demand high reliability through a robust wireless connection suitable for high sensor-data accuracy.
The WiPoint technology and the HC1100 employing it are the first results of the close cooperation between HMicro and STM. The companies’ next step is the deployment of this technology platform for other high-volume clinical and industrial IoT applications.
“One decade ago we started the MEMS revolution by offering ultra-low-power cost-effective micro sensors to the consumer market,” said Benedetto Vigna, executive vice president of ST Microelectronics. “Now, together with HMicro we are merging ultra-low-power wireless connectivity with a high-resolution analogue front-end and the best processing portfolio based on an ARM platform. The HC1100 is the first product of the new wireless sensor family that can find application whenever ultra-low-power RF and highly accurate sensor interfaces are needed.”
The HC1100 is already in high-volume production and is available from HMicro.