Maxim Integrated claims the first wrist-worn platform for ECG, heart rate, and temperature monitoring that cuts design time by up to six months

By
Gina Roos, editor-in-chief

Targeting new capabilities in virtual health-care monitoring
devices, Maxim Integrated Products, Inc. has unveiled
its Health Sensor Platform 2.0 (HSP 2.0) for designers looking to create wearable
solutions that enable the monitoring of various health parameters including electrocardiogram
(ECG), heart rate, and temperature monitoring. The new platform overcomes
challenges associated with precise ECG monitoring on the wrist and accurate
body temperature monitoring, said Maxim.

The prototyping, evaluation, and development platform — MAXREFDES101# — enables designers to develop
wrist-worn wearables with ECG, heart rate, and body temperature monitoring, a
first in the industry, according to Maxim. The wrist-based device, housed in a
watch casing, provides basic functionality out of the box.

“The data measurements collected by the HSP 2.0 can be owned by
the wearer, alleviating data privacy concerns and allowing users to conduct
their own data analysis,” said Maxim. Data is stored on the platform for
patient evaluation or streamed to a PC for analysis.

One of the
problems that Maxim Integrated is looking to address is the spiraling global
health-care costs, said Andrew Burt, Maxim’s executive business manager for
industrial health care. It’s 10% of the world’s GDP annual spend according to
current estimates and a $9 trillion market, he added.

Burt said
that the primary issue is how the consumer-related health and exercise
monitoring devices will migrate into health care and add more functionality to
make it more useful for people.

“People are
now looking to collect data on themselves and understand that data a little
more easily,” he said. It could be for early detection of some health-related
issue whereby the data collected could help facilitate a conversation with your
doctor or be used for continuous patient monitoring for people living with a
chronic disease like diabetes.

The HSP 2.0 is an open platform, so designers can evaluate their
own algorithms on the board. Maxim also future-proofed the platform with a
modular format to accommodate new sensors as they become available.

Burt said that Maxim is focusing on four key
technology areas: biopotential chipsets that measure very small voltages and
current around the heart; contact temperature sensors that have clinical-grade
accuracy of 0.1°C over the human body temperature range; power management
devices (PMICs) with clever power management architectures for applications
that need continuous monitoring; and optical sensors.

HSP 2.0 includes the following components:

  • MAX32630 DARWIN low-power microcontroller for
    wearables and internet of things (IoT) applications
  • MAX32664 ultra-low-power biometric sensor hub
    with embedded heart-rate algorithm
  • MAX20303 highly integrated and programmable
    power management solution designed for ultra-low-power wearable applications
  • MAX30205 human body temperature sensor with
    ±0.1°C accuracy
  • MAX30001 ultra-low-power, single-channel
    integrated biopotential and bioimpedance analog front-end (AFE) solution for
    wearable applications
  • MAX86141 ultra-low-power optical pulse
    oximeter and heart-rate sensor for wearables

The platform is the only available solution to integrate
clinical-grade ECG along with heart-rate and body-temperature measurements in a
wrist-worn format, said Maxim. The platform supports the Arm Mbed environment, enabling
rapid application prototyping and access to an extensive library of open-source
software.

“Customers in health care need good reference designs
from us as a chipset company because they want to gather data and own that
data,” said Burt. “Two years ago, Maxim released its health sensor platform,
which contained a bunch of sensors, an MPU, and some algorithms and put the
design files on the web. It turned out to be one of the most popular Maxim
reference designs. We’re still shipping them now.”

Earlier this year, Maxim released the MAX-HEALTH-BAND evaluation and development platform, a
wrist-worn heart-rate and activity monitor, and the MAX-ECG-MONITOR
evaluation and development platform (in a patch or chest strap), which
monitors ECG and heart-rate signals.

Now with the release of the HSP 2.0,
it’s a wrist-worn design so you measure heart-related signals and do calorie
counting and ECG monitoring on the wrist, said Burt.

What’s also new about this reference design is that Maxim has
moved to a stackable PCB system, so as the company introduces new sensors, designers
can just swap out the sensor board.

Maxim-Integrated-MAXREFDES101-Block-Diagram

“We’ve found that we can spin out new sensors faster
than we can spin out reference designs, so we created an architecture that is
future-proof and scalable as we improve our sensors or make a different type of
sensor,” said Burt.

The new reference design also allows for more
customization. Customers still have access to all of the design files, but it
now includes the layout of the watch casing, which is 3D-printed by Maxim.

Over-the-air upgrade functionality is in the plans for
next year — likely in the spring, said Burt.

The Health Sensor Platform 2.0, MAXREFDES101#, is available with hardware and firmware files
for $399 at Maxim’s website and select franchised distributors, including Avnet, Digi-Key,
Mouser, and Newark element14.
Arm
Mbed
also offers the hardware, firmware, and microboard.