Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ST, Valencell release biometric sensor kit for wearables, IoT

William Payne
January 5, 2017
Semiconductor firm STMicroelectronics (ST) and Raleigh, NC, based performance biometric data sensor technology developer Valencell have launched a new kit for biometric wearables that they claim is highly accurate and scalable. The kit includes compact SensorTile turnkey multi-sensor module integrated with Valencell's Benchmark biometric sensor system. The two companies claim that the combination of SensorTile and Benchmark provide a portfolio of sensors that supports the most advanced wearable use cases. The kit could make it easier to develop and produce sophisticated long battery life wearables for healthcare and clinical uses.

The kit includes the ability to monitor patient vital signs in VO2 and VO2 max, continuous heart rate, resting, recovery and heart rate response and efficiency and variability measurements.

The SensorTile is a tiny IoT (Internet of Things) module (13.5mm x 13.5mm) that includes an STM32L4 microcontroller, a Bluetooth Low Energy chipset, a wide spectrum of high-accuracy motion and environmental MEMS sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure, temperature sensor), and a digital MEMS microphone.

Integrating ST's SensorTile development kit with Valencell's Benchmark sensor technology is designed to simplify the prototyping, evaluation, and development of wearable and IoT solutions by delivering a complete Valencell PerformTek technology package, ready for integration and delivery into wearable devices. The collaboration with ST expands on previous work that incorporated the company's STM32 MCUs and sensors into Valencell's Benchmark sensor system.

"Valencell's Benchmark solution leverages the high accuracy of ST's MEMS sensor technology along with SensorTile's miniature form factor, flexibility, and STM32 Open Development Environment-based ecosystem," said Tony Keirouz, Vice President Marketing and Applications, Microcontrollers, Security, and Internet of Things, STMicroelectronics. "Combined, SensorTile and Benchmark enable wearable makers to quickly and easily develop the perfect product for any application that integrates highly accurate biometrics."

"Working with ST has allowed us to bring together the best of all sensors required to support the most advanced wearable use cases through our groundbreaking Benchmark sensor system," said Dr. Steven LeBoeuf, president and co-founder of Valencell. "What attracted us to the SensorTile was the flexibility of the platform and the ultra-low power consumption, which will enable our customers to create highly-accurate and powerful wearables and hearables in any form factor."

At just over 180mm, STMicroelectronics claims its SensorTile is currently the smallest turnkey sensor board of its type. It includes a MEMS accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure sensor, and a MEMS microphone. With the on-board low-power STM32L4 microcontroller, it can be used as a sensing and connectivity hub for developing firmware and shipping in products such as wearables, gaming accessories, and smart-home or IoT devices.

Adding to its features, SensorTile has a complete Bluetooth Low Energy transceiver including a miniature single-chip balun on-board, as well as a broad set of system interfaces. It can be plugged to a host board, and when powered it starts streaming inertial, audio, and environmental data to ST's BlueMS smartphone app that can be downloaded free from app stores.

Valencell's PerformTek sensor systems are designed to give wearable and hearable devices the ability to continuously and accurately measure blood flow signals, even during extreme physical activity or when the optical signals are weak. These signals can be translated into biometric data, including continuous heart rate, VO2 and VO2 max, resting heart rate, heart rate response, heart rate recovery, continuous energy expenditure (calorie burn), cardiac efficiency and heart rate variability assessments.