Connected Health

Wireless Solutions for Smart Wearable Devices

Review ideal wireless solutions for smart wearable devices. Design in reliable, low-energy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with advanced IoT security.

Wearable Market

Smart wearables have successfully motivated millions worldwide to maintain better health and stay productive at work. The share of adults meeting the US aerobic-activity and muscle-strengthening guidelines has risen from 14% to 24% between 1998-2018. COVID-19 accelerated the growing trends of healthy lifestyles because people wanted to prevent sickness and avoid congested hospitals. This fuelled the global fitness tracker market, which is expected to reach a total value of 114 billion by 2028.

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What Are Smart Wearables?

Wearables are battery-powered devices that allow users to monitor activity and biometrics while providing secure access to user data on the device and cloud. Examples of wearables include smartwatches, wristbands, bike sensors, head-mounted displays, smart clothing, and a virtually unending list of other applications.

What Do Smart Wearables Do?

Wearables have sensors that track biometric and physical signals such as heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, motion, etc. They communicate that data to the cloud or a smartphone wirelessly to produce meaningful information for the user – steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, quality of sleep, and more. Wearables can also stream music and show notifications, emails, and phone calls during exercise.

Benefits of Smart Wearable Devices

Wearables promise users an easy way to take control of life and get fit by making exercise more approachable, whether that’s listening to music and socializing with friends or integrating movement goals into everyday activity. This provides new application opportunities for device makers: activity and sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring and ECG, and Virtual Reality (VR) enabled activity applications.

Silicon Labs Solutions for Smart Wearables

Silicon Labs provides you with the perfect wireless solution to design sleek devices with reliable, low-energy connectivity and the most advanced IoT security. We offer Wi-Fi and Bluetooth solutions with ingenious power-saving strategies, extending battery life while delivering reliable connectivity indoors and outdoors. Coupled with seamless SDK integration in various modes such as NCP and SoC, we can help you launch wearables with a quick time to market.

Minimizing Power Consumption

Whether the user is indoors or outdoors, they want their wearable device to connect instantly. The design challenge with resource-constrained wearables is getting the right combination of wireless performance and energy efficiency. For Bluetooth LE, BG27 features an ultra-low transmit power (TX) of 4.3 mA at 0 dBm and a receive power (RX) of 3.6 mA, Its exceptional RX sensitivity of -98.9 dBm decreases output power. The ARM Cortex®-M33 features 48 µA/MHz active and 1.8 µA sleep currents with 64 kB RAM retention, making BG27 an excellent fit meeting computing needs with minimal power overhead. For Wi-Fi, Silicon Labs RS9116 Wi-Fi SoCs reduce transmission power by up to 70% (1 Mbps) and WLAN standby associated power (1-sec intervals) with ~90% compared to competing SoCs, saving battery for always-on Wi-Fi.

Streamlining Multiprotocol Design

Wearables are constantly connected to several entities – Bluetooth Low Energy for smartphones and sensors, Wi-Fi for the cloud, and Bluetooth Classic for headphones. So, how do you implement powerful multiprotocol capabilities while minimizing BoM, design complexity, and power? The answer is multi-protocol solutions such as the RS9116 Wi-Fi NCP modules, which combine Wi-Fi single and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth Low Energy with multi-protocol co-existence, and Bluetooth Classic on a single chip.

Optimizing Wearable Form Factor

Wearables require small form factor components. For Wi-Fi, the RS9116 offers the smallest form factor pre-certified Wi-Fi module (4.63 x 7.90 mm) in the industry. The module is ideal for sleek designs while enabling a quick time to market and reduced development costs compared to SoCs through pre-certified RF and integrated antenna. For Bluetooth LE, BG27 in CSP (2.3 x 2.6 mm) or BG24 in CSP (3.1 x 3.0 mm) give you the flexibility to design extremely small, appealing wearable devices.

How to Improve Battery Level Tracking on Wearables?

How can you as a product designer prevent unexpected battery depletion on wearables? The integrated Coulomb Counter on BG27 enables you to implement accurate battery level tracking on wearable devices to enhance the user experience.

Enhancing Wearable Devices with a DCDC Converter

Our BG27 ultra-low-power Bluetooth LE SoC features an integrated DCDC converter providing you with a wide voltage range of 0.8 V - 1.6 V or 1.71 V - 3.8 V. It enables the use of single-cell alkaline and button cells to reduce product size and cost and extends battery use.

Security Considerations for Wearables

Connected wearable devices processing and transmitting health information can impose an extreme privacy threat to users. Silicon Labs provides the market’s most advanced IoT security solution, Secure Vault™, enabling you to protect your devices and customers from logical cyber-attacks and physical tampering, increasing brand trustworthiness.

Maximizing Wi-Fi access Point Compatibility

Novus Labs, a 3rd party test laboratory, has performed interoperability testing for RS9116 across hundreds of routers with zero Wi-Fi disconnects, zero TCP disconnects, and 100% reception of application messages sent once every 55 seconds. So should you want to maximize Wi-Fi access point compatibility for your wearable device, RS9116 Wi-Fi IoT solution is the way to go.

How to Enable AI/ML on Wearables?

In the future, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) on wearable devices are becoming critical, enabling more intelligent applications and on-device computing while reducing latency by avoiding roundtrips to the cloud. Silicon Labs BG24 with a built-in AI/ML hardware accelerator on Bluetooth SoC provides 4X faster ML inferencing with 1/6th of power, eliminating the need to wake up and run the central processor and enabling power savings on your wearable.


Wireless Solutions for Smart Wearable Devices Block Diagram

Additional Products and Services

Explore your IoT Training with Works With 2023 On-Demand Sessions

Works With 2023 featured expert-led IoT training, including more than 40 technical sessions across six tracks, and you can watch all of them on-demand here. This curriculum features the latest trends, tools, and design techniques for developers and will dive deep into the technologies driving the IoT. You can start with your wireless technology by clicking the links below.

Additional Resources and Documentation 

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