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Friday, October 07, 2016

Wireless medical sensor design looks to spin off into industrial and IoT applications

By Nick Flaherty

ST Microelectronics and HMicro have teamed up to develop the industry’s first single-chip solution for clinical-grade, single-use disposable smart patches and biosensors. The product, HC1100, targets the 5 billion wired wearable sensors, such as those for vital-sign monitors and electrocardiogram leads, used each year.

The companies are now looking to move this technology into industrial applications for the Internet of Things (IoT). 
The HC1100 chip is the first to be based on HMicro's WiPoint technology and a purpose-built silicon platform jointly created by HMicro and ST. This embeds three ultra-low-power radios for Wi-Fi, Ultra-wideband, and Medical Band (MBAN), multiple sensor interfaces, an ARM Cortex M0 application processor, 352kB of RAM, and power-management circuits on a single chip. 

The dual-core ARM Cortex M0 architecture uses ST's ultra-low-power design technology and wireless-connectivity IP to ensure reliable operation. The multi-sensor interfaces support monitoring of heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and respiration, as well as the capability to interface to MEMS micromachined microphones and motion MEMS sensors that could be used to monitor and detect patient behavior via activity recognition. 

The HC1100’s patent-protected specifications meet key requirements for mission-critical products and functions that demand ultra-high reliability through a robust wireless connection suitable for high sensor-data accuracy.

“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 HMicro. “Creating and developing a fully optimized, 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.”

“A decade ago we started the MEMS revolution by offering ultra-low-power cost-effective micro sensors to the consumer market. Now, together with HMicro we are merging ultra-low-power wireless connectivity with a high-resolution analog front-end and the best processing portfolio based on ARM platform,” said Benedetto Vigna, EVP and GM of STMicroelectronics’ Analog and MEMS Group. “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.”

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