Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 11, 2016

Silicon Labs Takes New Step Forward in Heart Rate Monitoring

Heart rate monitors are a huge part of healthcare, as they provide a real-time view into the primary engine of advanced life. Silicon Labs is steering the heart rate monitor in an exciting new direction, using some impressive technology to make it not only more mobile, but simpler as well.

Silicon Labs took several key components and brought them together to form a new force in mobile heart rate monitoring (HRM), the Si1144. It starts with an optical sensor module that works on a minimum of power to carry out its function, and then brings in an EFM32 microcontroller using an HRM algorithm developed at Silicon Labs itself. Built into the system is an optical sensor, a green LED, a set of LED drivers that allow for two extra external LEDs, control logic systems and an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) system.

With all of these tools in place, the Si1144 can actually track weak blood flow with about the same capability as a unit worn directly on the chest itself. Better still, it can work with two separate algorithms, allowing it to handle stable HRM as readily as it handles HRM involving motion by connecting to an accelerometer. It also boasts a lot less power consumption, making it a great choice for wearable devices by contributing to better battery life.

Silicon Labs' new combination is particularly potent, and that makes it a force to be reckoned with in the larger market. The weak blood flow monitoring is especially useful; formerly, HRM was mostly a chest-based affair, but with better wrist-mounted monitors like those Silicon Labs is offering, it's a lot easier to get that connection on the wrist. That makes it more accessible, and more likely to be used than if the only real option were a chest-mounted unit. Better yet, HRM systems are being incorporated into a growing number of devices; it's not just commercial fitness tracking systems that benefit from HRM enhancements. It's being built into fitness equipment in gyms or at home, it's being included in bathroom scales, and it's also being frequently used as part of a hospital or nursing home's repertoire to do the best job of tracking patient health. It can even be a component of a home-based health care system; since heart rate is directly connected to so many conditions and serves as a general indicator of physical health, tracking and reporting it effectively becomes key to patient monitoring.

Versatile systems tend to do well in the market, and there's little doubt that Silicon Labs' new Si1144 module has versatility and to spare. It should go a long way in a market eager for new healthcare advances, and give us all a little more peace of mind when it comes to health and fitness.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

Comments powered by Disqus

Featured Video

Dedicated to Wearable Tech: Mobile, Sports, Fitness, Audio, Fashion, Design

Featured Podcasts

The Business of Wearable Computing: An Interview with Brand Finance An interview with Edgar Baum, Managing Director North America with Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy. Mr. Baum specializes in marketing ROI and financially quantified brand strategy.
Getting Attention for Your Wearables Joe Daniels of Loeb & Loeb discusses how wearable tech entrepreneurs can gain exposure for their ideas and what to do once they've won attention from potential investors.
Wearable Success Rides on Actionable Intelligence Lux Capital's Adam Goulburn focuses on the traits sought by investors as they consider wearable startups, such as how well their software turns collected data into actionable intelligence.
Wearable Tech Startup Strategy CRV's George Zachary talks wearable startups and how they can secure the attention of the right investors as the seek to become the next great thing in wearables.
How to Win the Wearable Tech Funding Game Donatella Giacometti speaks with Canary Ventures' Alex Goldberg about what the investment community looks for in startups, such as the many new wearable tech companies that are emerging.

Wearable Tech World Media Sponsors