Advanced Low Power Wireless Technology Creates New Possibilities in Wearables and “Connected” Health & Wellness Devices

by  Amy Heimpel  - 02-22-2017 

The wireless semiconductor business is set to expand considerably over the course of the next few years, as the number of interconnected devices continues to escalate. Analyst firm ABI Research has estimated that by 2021, wireless connectivity demands will lead to 10 billion in annual ICs shipments, excluding cellular communication chips. It also expects that Bluetooth® ICs will constitute nearly two thirds of this total. Clearly the continued roll-out of IoT hardware, emerging opportunities in automotive, plus of course the already established smartphone market, will all be contributing factors. It is also expected that there will be a very strong uptake in relation to both wearable electronics and body-worn medical technology.  


While it is unknown exactly what new types of wearables will emerge - with some pronouncing devices like bionic contact lenses or sensor-interfacing “tattoos” as the next big thing - what is known is that semiconductor technology must be able to meet these rapidly evolving needs.


Some of the key features include the following:


  1.  Energy Efficient. Greater functionality often means increased power consumption. For devices that operate off of coin-cell batteries for long periods of time, battery life is of prime importance, so it’s crucial for the IC’s power management to be optimized.


  1. Ultra-Miniature. Body-worn devices must be small and lightweight to prevent any inconvenience to the wearer. At a system level, this means that in addition to the wireless connectivity, other functionalities including data storage and signal processing should be incorporated onto the IC, in order to help minimize overall system size.

  2. Highly Flexible. The system-level needs of a smart watch are not the same as a hearing aid. To ensure that the specific requirements of each particular application can be attended to, engineers need a versatile platform on which they can construct optimized systems.


With longstanding proven experience and design expertise providing the medical market with industry-leading power consumption and its growing technical strength in wireless technology, ON Semiconductor is perfectly positioned to meet the evolving needs of wearables and health & wellness devices.


Learn more about our ultra-low-power, multi-protocol, Bluetooth 5 certified radio System-on-Chip (SoC) by visiting our RSL10 product page.

To see a demonstration of our RSL10-based heart rate monitor, come visit us at Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona, Spain.

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