Given the popularity of fitness trackers, many of us have become quite accustomed to having ready access to our step count, heart rate, and various other health parameters. As sensor technologies that are at the heart of these applications become increasingly sophisticated, it’s a good time to take a look at what’s next in the world of smart wellness designs. What else will we be able to do?
At Maxim, we are continually innovating our sensing solutions with the goal of enabling a healthier world. For us, this means technologies geared toward keeping people out of the hospital via:
Chronic disease monitoring
Bio-sensing devices can help alert people to the first signs of a potential health problem, giving them a prompt to visit their doctor. Early detection, in turn, can contribute to better outcomes. And post-visit, at-home monitoring can help people more effectively manage their conditions. The technologies we are developing today provide the groundwork for solutions that will someday allow personalized, continuous patient monitoring. For example, our hSensor Platform provides design engineers an integrated sensor platform for prototyping solutions that measure parameters such as pulse/heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, body temperature, and the heart’s electrical activity. The platform, also known as MAXREFDES100#, can reduce the prototype development cycle by up to six months. MAXREFDES117#, our heart-rate and pulse-oximetry reference design, works with the Arduino and ARM® mbed™ platforms, providing a fast way to test and develop wearable solutions measuring these parameters. And ICs like the MAX30101, an integrated pulse-oximetry and heart-rate monitor module, provide a complete system solution that helps ease the design-in process for fitness devices and similar wearables.
In the future, devices will become smart enough to alert patients when their health is good, needs attention, or requires urgent attention. Developers are working on ways to more accurately monitor a variety of health parameters via wearable devices, including blood pressure trending, blood oxygen, sleep apnea/quality, and body hydration. Imagine what the combination of such monitoring, along with the right balance of diet, lifestyle changes, and medication, can bring!
Wearable Health Devices: Delivering Comfort, Convenience, and Quality
The newest gadget to reach the market may not be so new after all. One area that Maxim is exploring is how we can integrate monitoring and measurement capabilities into things that people are already using. After all, not everyone is keen on wearing something around their wrist or even clipped to their belt. As an alternative, what if you could track your fitness metrics from your running shoes or a ring? Or what if your smartphone could accurately measure heart rate or blood glucose?
For the next wave of wellness monitoring capabilities, qualities including discretion, convenience, comfort, and precision/high accuracy will be essential for customer adoption. The “mother of all platforms,” if you will, is the smartphone—and the push is on to achieve greater accuracy in performing various types of measurements. Miniaturization is also an essential criterion. In this regard, our aim is not to invent medical science but to miniaturize the technologies that can help advance the science. Here, we strive to support innovations such as ultra-thin medical patches that can provide an unobtrusive method for continuous remote monitoring. Imagine the convenience of someday being able to perform at-home blood tests and obtaining results via a smartphone app.
As the overall sensor market grows toward an anticipated $2.5 billion by 2021, Maxim is continuing to build on our expertise in sensor solutions for the wellness industry, one of the fastest growing segments. With our expertise in circuit design, optical modeling, and microcontroller algorithms, we’re focused on developing technologies that will help make it easier for design engineers to create impactful wellness wearables. As an example, one of our microcontrollers for this space now comes with embedded algorithms, making it easier for engineers to get their products to market quickly.
Sensors are, indeed, the next big thing in our industry. And it’s certainly an exciting time to be developing technologies that carry the promise of enhancing quality of life.