New York, N.Y. -- The “hot” topic in today’s electronics market is arguably wearable electronics. Consumer devices such as “smart” watches, electronic fitness accessories, Google Glass come to mind, but the market is still in its infancy and is likely to embrace a wide range of products of varying forms and complexity.
The vast potential of the wearable electronics market has gained the attention of IP&E suppliers, who are busy researching next-generation technologies for wearable devices, as well as developing components that due to their small size and performance characteristics are suited for these products.
Market research firm IDC expects sales of global wearable devices market to reach 19.2 million units on 2014. The firm believes that smart wearables, such as Google Glass, are just emerging and won’t ship in large quantities under 2016.
“Wearable computing is still at the launchpad,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phones Team in a statement. “The market has certainly warmed up to the notion of wearables, but the spectrum of devices is so large ranging from very simple, single-purpose devices to full-fledged computers that different categories will be able to gain salience sooner than others. This will either allow vendors to hone their products and services or jump in sooner and establish critical ties with suppliers, distributors, and other players in the ecosystem.”
Toward this end, components supplier TE Connectivity has opened a “Wearables Lab” in Menlo Park, CA to conduct research and development on wearable devices. The company expects to leverage its ability to collaborate across the wearables ecosystem, coupled with its breadth of components and technologies.
The laboratory is being used by startup companies ranging from design to manufacturing and integration companies. One product that has already emerged from this lab is a wireless power development kit for portable devices. Set for broad distribution in early 2015, the kit will include a small 2.5 W charger with integrated magnet for attachment to a wearable device, as well as a complete RX coil and electronics for integration. TE engineers miniaturized the electronic system and coil to enable wearable product designers to quickly prototype their products and develop a custom solution to meet their design requirements.
Advances in packaging and device fabrication are enabling component supplies to pack high performance into ever-smaller package sizes. These developments are enabling component suppliers to target the wearable devices market.
Plessey has launched a packaged MaGIC LED (light emitting diode), designated the PLW138003. The PLW138003 is a white LED in a tiny 1005 surface-mount package measuring 1.0 x 0.5 mm. This package is designed specifically to meet the demand for smaller LEDs producing highly collimated light required in wearable applications.
The part delivers up to 0.7 lumens of white light with a 130 deg viewing angle from a 5-mA drive current. A blue version, the PLB138003, is also available.
Murata Manufacturing Company has developed two new crystal unit products, the XRCGB–F-P series and the XRCFD-F/XRCMD-F series. The XRCGB-F-P series comes in a 2016 size (2.0 x 1.6 mm) package and achieves a frequency tolerance of +/-40 ppm, making it the first device of its type to support wireless communication applications in wearable and mobile devices. The XRCFD-F/XRCMD-F series, in a 1612-size package measuring 1.6 x 1.2 mm, has a frequency precision of +/-20 ppm to enable support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
On the power end, TDK Corp. has unveiled an ultra-compact DC-DC converter designated the B30000P80 series. The converter has a footprint measuring just 2.9 x 2.3 mm with an insertion height of 1 mm. The converter is available in eight versions offering output voltages of 1.1 to 2.8 VDC. Maximum output current is 600 mA.
The B30000P80 series is 92% efficient and is protected from overloads and thermal shutdown. They are intended for wearable devices as well as for WLAN, GPS, and Bluetooth applications.
The article originally published at the IP&E Marketplace.