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Quicklogic Delivers First Wearable Sensor Hub with Under 150uW Standby

Quicklogic Delivers First Wearable Sensor Hub with Under 150uW Standby
by Paul McLellan on 09-03-2014 at 9:00 am

 I have talked before about how the Internet of Things (IoT) doesn’t require enormous power-hungry SoCs. We all accept, or at least put up with, having to recharge our phones daily. But smart pedometers (or whatever a good name for Fitbit-like products are) had better last for a week or two between charges.

Today, Quicklogic announced the ArcticLink 3 S2 platform, which is the second customer-specific standard product (CSSP) on its sensor hub roadmap. Of course as you would expect it is better. It has four times the computational performance, four times the on-board algorithm capacity and eight times the buffer storage of the previous generation, while consuming over 1/3 less power. The standby power at 1.2V operation is a miserly 150uW. With those specs it has capacity to store 3 weeks of data. It is completely pin-compatible and software-compatible with the previous generation.

The part falls into the sweet spot between the application processor approach, using entirely software, which is much too power hungry. On the other hand, a fixed function ASSP doesn’t always have enough flexibility to adapt sensor hub algorithms for emerging applications. The new part is both adaptable by changing the hardware (it is a programmable device in the FPGA sense) or the software (it is also a programmable device in the microprocessor sense).

The ArcticLink 3 S2 is available in CSSP and Catalog CSSP variants. The CSSP variant allows OEMs the chance to develop customized versions of the S2, and choose from QuickLogic-developed, 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] party, and/or OEM-developed sensor algorithms to address specific end product requirements for best-in-class performance. The first Catalog CSSP variant, called the ArcticLink 3 S2 Gesture and Context Catalog CSSP, provides out-of-the-box support for gestures such as tap-to-wake and rotate-to-wake, along with providing enhanced context and significant motion detection, sensor calibration functions, and enhanced pedometer (including differentiation and step counts of running, jogging, and walking.)

 Instead of giving you all the detailed specs (which are on the datasheet, see below), here are the algorithms that are supported out of the box:

  • Device Motion: Shake, Rotate, Translate
  • Device Carry: On Person, Not on Person, In Hand Front, In Hand Side, In Pocket
  • User Activity: Sitting, Standing, Cycling, Walking, Jogging, Running (including individual step counts)
  • Transport Contexts: In Car, In Elevator, On Stairs, On Bike
  • Gestures: Tap-to-Wake, Rotate-to-Wake, Lift-to-Wake, Optical Gesture
  • 9-axis Sensor Fusion: On device or shared with AP/MCU
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Support for PPG-based sensors, including Beats Per Minute (BPM) and Interbeat Interval (IBI)

Historically Quicklogic have been working with Sensor Platforms and other partners. With the acquisition of Sensor Platforms by Audience Semiconductor, Quicklogic have decided to become more self-sufficient. In addition to continuing to work with partners, Quicklogic have built up a team to do algorithm development internally. There is a sort of cottage industry of small algorithm companies so consolidation and acquisition looks like the order of business going forward for now.

The name is not public, but Quicklogic have been working with a top ten smartphone supplier during Q1 for a wearable product. This is a particularly exciting design win. This customer has high brand recognition and all of the algorithms used in the design were developed by QuickLogic.

More details, including a datasheet, are available here.

More articles by Paul McLellan…

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