Enhance Preventive Care with Digital Health Sensors

Authored by Andrew Burt, Executive Business Manager, Industrial & Healthcare Business Unit, Maxim Integrated

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Wearables like smartwatches are providing useful health insights that can alert users to certain conditions.
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Continuous, remote monitoring can provide useful insights into one’s health and well-being. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, patch-like devices, and even clothing and jewelry can be designed to measure and evaluate certain health parameters.

Enabling these devices to provide such useful insights are an array of digital health technologies. Sensors, for example, collect voluminous amounts of data that is then analyzed by algorithms and via machine learning. And sensors are getting smarter as they measure parameters like body temperature, heart rate and pulse, glucose levels, and blood-oxygen levels. Other key semiconductor components in remote monitoring solutions include:

  • Analog front-ends, which are used to deliver electrocardiogram waveforms
  • Ultrasound imaging transceivers and receivers inside imaging systems
  • Power management ICs (PMICs), which ensure that voltage levels in the wearable devices are regulated
  • Battery chargers and battery fuel gauges, which help ensure reliable device uptime
  • Microcontrollers, which provide processing capability
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Measuring health parameters is particularly challenging because a high level of accuracy must be obtained within the challenging confines of the human body. As an example, let’s take a look at optical heart-rate monitors, which typically use photo plethysmography (PPG), an optical measurement of the volumetric change of blood in tissue from the cardiac cycle.

Measuring PPG signals from a wearable device involves overcoming challenges related to signal-to-noise ratio, power consumption, ambient light cancellation, and motion compensation.

Enabling a Healthier World
If you’re designing digital health solutions, you must select components that will provide the accuracy and performance your device requires. One easy way to evaluate IC components and also to accelerate your development cycle is to use a prototyping platform.

For example, Maxim’s hSensor Platform integrates a variety of sensors for measuring heart and pulse rate, blood-oxygen levels, the heart’s electrical activity, and body temperature. The platform includes algorithms for various applications, including smart weigh scales, chest straps, ECG patches, bio authentication, and disposable temperature patches.

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