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ECG measurement added to wearables

6th December 2017


Silicon Labs has introduced a family of optical biometric sensors providing advanced heart rate monitoring (HRM) along with electrocardiogram (ECG) capabilities for a wide range of wearable fitness and wellness products. The new Si117x sensor modules combine ultra-low power, high sensitivity and excellent integration, making them ideal for smart watches and wrist-based, patch-type and other wearables requiring long battery life and enhanced HRM accuracy. To simplify development and speed time to market, Silicon Labs offers a complete, end-to-end sensing solution featuring the Si117x sensor module, HRM algorithm, Wireless Gecko SoCs for Bluetooth connectivity, and an easy-to-use, wrist-based development kit with sample code and example projects.

All-day HRM is a key requirement for health and fitness wearables. By tracking HR throughout the day, end users and health-care providers can analyse physiological patterns, detect health issues before they become problems and consider lifestyle adjustments. Addressing the market need for power efficiency, the Si117x sensors consume less than 50 µA (sensor and LED combined) while performing continuous HRM. A built-in buffer and accelerometer synchronisation capabilities save even more system-level power. The sensors’ power efficiency enables developers to use smaller batteries in wearable designs without significantly impacting the device’s battery life during continuous monitoring.

The Si117x sensors provide enhanced HRM accuracy for a better end-user experience. They offer fast sampling speeds, a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR >100 dB), and the ability to cancel out ambient noise and erroneous data, resulting in high-quality signals that make it easier to track heart rates despite challenging physiologies, varying skin tones and the presence of tattoos. A more accurate view of the HR waveform enables biometrics beyond traditional HRM, including heart rate variability (HRV), stress analysis and pulse volume. 

By combining ECG measurements with optical HR measurements, the Si117x sensors allow developers to unlock new potential biometrics for wearables. The ECG waveform is the gold standard for cardiac measurements, and the Si117x sensors bring this capability to wrist-based wearables in a cost-effective, power-efficient manner. By making measurements in the same device and at the same time, the Si117x sensors allow developers to combine biometrics with optical photoplethysmogram (PPG) measurements to derive valuable physiological parameters. 

 






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