Here’s a look at some of the newest electronic components aimed at the portable, mobile and wearable markets – all expected to have good solid growth over the next several years. For example, ABI Research expects 1.25 billion smartphones to ship in 2014 and forecasts smartphone shipments to pass the 2 billion mark in 2018. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the forecast period from 2014 to 2019 is a healthy 12 percent.
IC Insights recently forecast that tablet shipments will increase by a CAGR of 28.8 percent from 2012 to 2017 with shipments rising 39 percent in 2014 and 16 percent in 2015. Although the wearables market is still in its infancy, electronic component manufacturers have to be happy with the forecast numbers. Global sales of wearable devices is expected to grow tenfold from 15 million units in 2013 to 154 million units by 2018, according to Strategy Analytics. Initially the biggest sales are expected to come from smartwatches, smartglasses and fitness bands. Interesting, wearables are expected to make some big inroads into the enterprise market. ABI Research predicts that wearable device technologies will become an integral part of the enterprise mobile enablement strategies, growing at a CAGR of 56.1 percent over the next five years. The growth in North America will be the largest, growing at a CAGR of 39 percent over the next five years.
Here are a few components that designers may want to evaluate for their next mobile designs, ranging from power modules and power management ICs (PMICs) to camera chips and electromechanical switches.
One of the most interesting chips that I came across over the past month is Broadcom’s navigation/sensor hub chip that offers big power and board area savings. Broadcom claims the BCM4773 as the industry’s first low-power Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and sensor hub combo chip to deliver new always-on location applications for a variety of mobile devices. By integrating the GNSS chip and sensor hub into a single chip, the new BCM4773 device minimizes battery drain and adds a new layer of intelligence to location technology on mobile devices, said Broadcom. But that’s not all. Broadcom’s architecture enables information from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart, GPS and micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) to be calculated on a single system-on-chip (SoC) instead of the application processor (AP). A standalone microcontroller offloads fusing of sensor data from the AP to maximize power savings. By offloading from the AP, the design delivers more than 80 percent power savings while reducing board area by 34 percent, according to the company.
Also claimed as an industry first is the wireless haptic development kit from Texas Instruments. Aimed at speeding up the design of just about any touch-enabled portable applications including portable medical equipment and wearables, the development kit provides system designers with a fast way to prototype eccentric rotating mass (ERM) motor and linear resonant actuator (LRA) haptic effects. The Haptic Bluetooth Kit (DRV2605EVM-BT), featuring Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and a free iOS app to control on-board LEDs for lighting effects, enables designers to create haptic sequences and LED patterns for tactile feedback, notifications and alerts from a pre-licensed library of more than a hundred distinct haptic effects, eliminating wires and the need to design haptic waveforms, said TI.
On the power side, we highlight two space- and power-savings devices from Intersil and Micrel. Also touted as an industry first is Intersil’s single-chip PMIC for smartphones. The ISL98611 display power and LED driver for smartphones is touted as the first power management IC that integrates the display power and backlight LED driver functions in a single chip, improving efficiency of both functions to increase smartphone battery life by an hour or more. In addition to extending battery life, the ISL98611 also is said to improve display brightness uniformity and color consistency. The ISL98611 integrates a boost regulator, LDO and inverting charge pump for generating two output rails at +5V and -5V in a single device. It also includes a boost regulator with 3-channel current sinks for the LED backlight driver.
Micrel introduces a new family of miniature, low-profile DC/DC power modules for space-constrained applications, including wireless modules, solid state drives, wearable devices, and camera modules. The complete power solutions include the MIC33163/MIC33164 (1A) and MIC33263/MIC33264 (2A) step-down power modules capable of 100-percent duty cycle. Available with an input voltage range from 2.7 V to 5.5 V, these compact modules integrate a synchronous buck converter with an inductor into a 2.5- x 3- x 1.1-mm or 2.5- x 3- x 1.9-mm QFN package, depending on the part.
Also targeting wearables as well as other applications with stringent space requirements such as smartphones, tablets, and notebooks is the OVM6211 CameraCubeChip from OmniVision Technologies. This complete global shutter camera solution is available in the industry’s smallest form factor. The OVM6211 enables a variety of applications in consumer devices, including key machine and computer vision capabilities such as gesture recognition, eye tracking and motion detection. Built on OmniVision’s 3-micron OmniPixel3-GS global shutter pixel, the OVM6211 is capable of capturing full resolution (400 x 400 pixels) video at 120 FPS, enabling smear-free black and white image capture in both landscape and portrait mode, said the company. An added benefit of the OVM6211 is its unique ultra-low-power mode, which allows it to be used in an “always aware” mode with minimum power consumption.
In the electromechanical component market, C&K Components has developed a series of ultra-low-profile, top-actuated tactile switches with extended operating lifecycles up to 500,000. The surface-mount switches measure 3.7 mm x 3.7 mm with a board-mounted profile of 0.35 mm, making the PTS 540 Series switches well suited for miniaturized portable electronic devices such as MP3 accessories, Bluetooth headsets and remote control devices. The series offers several options for actuating forces and operational lifecycles up to 500,000, making them a good fit for rugged consumer devices.
There is no doubt that we'll see more components, evaluation boards and reference designs available to designers over the upcoming months. One of things we're already seeing is leading electronic component distributors, including Avnet, Digi-Key and Mouser, placing an emphasis on wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) by bulking up their portfolios, launching new microsites, and delivering more product information to engineers and buyers.
This is an excerpt from the October Hot Products newsletter.