In the evolution of wearable device chipsets, there are generally three types:
- Mobile chipsets: early on existing mobile chipsets were used to develop products. For example, Samsung Galaxy Gear used Exynos 4212, Google Glass used OPAP 4430. The advantage is an effective use of an existing platform with rich features.
- Microcontroller (MCU) based products: such as Pebble Watch and FitBit One bracelet that are based on MCUs as the core to develop the product. The advantages being low power consumption, simple operation, continuous data collection and transfer to the Host side. Intel Curie and ARM Cortex-M architecture MCU products are developed out of this concept.
- Smart wearable device chipsets developed specifically for these applications: Intel’s solution for wearable devices, Intel Edison, is dual-core. The dual-core chipset supports Android system high-performance computing and real-time OS and wireless communication. Qualcomm launched the Toq processor, with ARM Cortex-M3 architecture, tailored for wearable device products. Broadcom introduced the BCM4771 processor with integrated GPS. Ingenic’s JZ4775 integrates CPU, Flash, LPDDR, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM, NFC and pressure sensors, temperature and humidity sensors.
We’ll be introducing a number of notable wearable chipsets and development kits below, including ARM Cortex-M0, NXP Hexiwear, MediaTek MT2523, Intel Curie, and Ingenic M200, as well as relevant experts on the HWTrek platform with whom you can directly connect.
ARM Cortex-M0 processor is an entry-level chip widely used in simple control and computing applications.
Last year, ARM announced a much-loved thing, the release of the Cortex-M0 processor and preferential licensing fees to support startups and other manufacturers of chip development process. Specifically, customers have free access via the ARM DesignStart portal to Cortex-M0 processor tools including Cortex-M0 SDK and ARM Keil MDK development kits. In addition, the Versatile Express FPGA development board – designed to accelerate the prototyping stage – is available at the low price of $955. However, licensing the Cortex-M0 processor from ARM for commercial production costs $40,000.
Chinese startup MYIR Tech Limited commented, “the low cost, low power consumption and relatively simple Cortex-M0 is ARM’s most licensed processor. Many large manufacturers such as ST, Freescale, and NXP have introduced Cortex-M0 core-based products.”
“The Cortex-M0 is a very elementary thing; it probably cannot do complex applications. But, it has its advantages in simple applications, such as for Bluetooth modules, because of its low price and low power consumption. Of course, free development tools are still very tempting for engineers,” added MYIR Tech.
Looking for a Cortex-M solution or expert? Check out one of many on the HWTrek platform:
Hexiwear is a new generation of IoT development platform designed to speed time to market. It uses a compact design with on-board ARM® Cortex®-M4 120 MHz MCU with built-in Bluetooth Low Energy 4.1 and integrated sensors, including temperature, pressure, humidity, light, optical heart rate, accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope, rechargeable battery, and 1.1″ full color OLED display. It also features a package of open source embedded software, mobile apps, and cloud connectivity. With a selection of commonly used sensors onboard that allow the developers to build a complete hardware device in the shortest possible time afters selecting which sensors to use, creators can concentrate on software and application development. NXP Hexiwear also includes a docking station through which it can be quickly expanded with more than 200 click boards™ sensor and other modules.
Using NXP Hexiwear, with respect to software and hardware, supports going from prototype to mass production, avoiding the difficult problem of going to mass production from Arduino. Users need only change the layout and small parameters to suit the product appearance. This allows the product to better support all requirements and quickly move to mass production.
MediaTek’s MT2523 chip, featuring GPS and dual-mode Bluetooth low energy system-in-package (SiP), is primarily designed for smartwatches and other wearable devices. The SiP integrates CPU, GPU, GPS, Bluetooth BLE, MCU, PMU (power management unit) and other chips. Furthermore, MediaTek enables smaller form factor devices than Android Wear consumes less power, and be used for more than one week when fully charged. The built-in Cortex-M4 coprocessor handles most tasks in standby mode without booting the more power consuming main system. With respect to display assembly, MediaTek provides the MIPI-DSI standard interface, so there’s not much required of the creator.
MediaTek LinkIt™ Assist 2502 development platform offers device developers a professional environment in which to design and prototype the software and hardware for Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This SoC works with MediaTek’s energy efficient Wi-Fi and GNSS companion chipsets also. This means it’s now easier to create devices that connect to other smart devices or directly to cloud applications and services. Learn more about MediaTek solutions for IoT and wearable device development here or connect with one of their experts.
At the core of Curie is Intel’s own Quark SE SoC with 384 KB Flash, 80 KB of SRAM memory, and clocked at 32 MHz. Designed as a solution for ultra-low power consumption smart wearable devices, Curie is equipped with a combination of power management IC, DSP, six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensor, supports low-power Bluetooth technology, and wake-up function. However, based on the module and Curie development board, it is more suitable to non-wearable smart devices. According to Intel, it is positioned for “fashion, sports, and life” applications. Though adding the development board significantly increases the size to provide more comprehensive interfaces, a full CPU, memory, and Flash components, making it more suitable to makers and embedded developers.
Before Curie, Intel launched the Edison and Galileo Arduino development boards, both equipped with the Quark SoC. Because of high price and running the Linux operating system, they didn’t draw much attention. On the foundation of the previous two development board, Curie was improved with a smaller form factor, price reduced by half, and running a small real-time operation system, making it more suitable for beginners.
Intel® Edison is a development platform for IoT and wearable devices. It is designed to help hardware creators and entrepreneurs with rapid prototyping so that they can efficiently produce innovative IoT products that keep us connected and transform the ways in which we live. If you are interested in an Intel solution for wearable development, you can learn more and connect with an expert here.
Among China’s IC design companies, Ingenic was the earliest to focus on wearables. The greatest feature of Ingenic chips is their ultra-low-power consumption and higher performance per watt. The 40 nm process Ingenic M200 Wearable Processor Unit uses the micro-architecture design XBurst CPU core. The 32-bit dual-core XBurst CPU includes the 1.2 GHz XBurst-HP core and 300 Mhz Xburst-LP core and consumes 0.07 mW/MHz of power. It features a voice trigger engine that can wake up the system from standby/sleep mode, supports 720p video and 3D graphics acceleration along with MIPI camera interface and internal ISP image processing functions, and supports LPDDR2 memory. The slim package size of 7.7 x 8.9 x 0.76 mm (with a chip thickness of only 0.76mm) makes it suitable for any wearable device. The M200 WPU solution biggest advantage is long battery life. Ingenic Glass is superior to Google Glass in battery life, heat dissipation, operating temperature, size, and cost.
This Solution is brought by the Ingenic Semiconductor, a fabless technology company, designing CPUs for mobile and consumer System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions. They offer an array of powerful devices for IoT development. Learn more about the M200 solution or connect with an expert from Ingenic here.