WEARABLES & BIOMETRIC DEVICES
Wearable tech has come of age
John Johnston, NPI director at Chemigraphic explores some of the manufacturing challenges of wearable technology
components, but protection is also required against water, damp, moisture and dust penetration.
The components must be fitted to withstand the inevitable knocks and bumps of daily life – but theymust also be encased in flexiblematerials that stretch and adapt.
Wearables demand amanufacturing partner who can creatively respond to restrictions on how components can be used and where they can be placed. To avoid costly changes late in the
manufacturing process, early engagement is critical.
Beyond electronics themselves, successful material selection for
wearables requires experience in working with products where hygiene,
sterilisation, durability, adjustability, waterproofing and stain resistance are all factors in play.
ATTERIES, CHARGING AND CONNECT
tart-up OEMs can now focus on innovation. They can develop a
prototype and then rely on the skills,
partner to overcome themanufacturing knowledge and network of an EMS
challenges posed by wearable devices.
THE HIGH DEMANDS OF THE WEARABLES MARKET
fitness tracker boomin recent years but Wearables burst on the scene with the
such simple tech has quickly run its course, to be replaced bymore
matured: more complex devices such as As themarket has developed it has sophisticated alternatives.
Other key sectors for this technology are and industrial market are proliferating. specialist devices aimed at themilitary smartwatches now dominate and
conditionmonitoring systems such as medical, where applications include
which human-machine interfaces such as heart rate trackers and industrial, in
augmented reality vision systems are used.
The global market is now worth £10.2m. It’s growing at a healthy 6%
largest market, followed by USA and each year. China is far and away the
India. SENSORS AND SWITCHES
Froman electromechanical perspective, a wristwatch and a smartwatch are polar opposites and require a different design. Contact and operability are of paramount importance for smartwatches: theymust provide a satisfying, tactile experience, a high life-cycle and a consistency of operation.
Themore ‘smart’ functions you
incorporate into your device, themore important your position and choice of switches and sensors becomes. For sensors, theymust be placed incredibly accurately – and tested
extensively – to ensure they are sensitive enough to relay accurate data that can be transferred to other devices.
For switches on devices worn on the head, such as listening devices and smart glasses, a light actuation force is required. However, for easily accessible wearables that are within the user's direct field of ation force is needed to rors fromknocks and
avoid operating er vision, a high actu
Tactile switches for wearables also need to be able to work properly in different
close to the skin the salt contained in environments over many years. Worn
sweat is amaj ajor threat to unprotected / ELECTRONICS Figure 2:
director at Chemigraphic John Johnston, NPI
More sophisticated wearable devices are now emerging, driving the industry growth forward
electronics the bette limited, so themore challenges for weara Battery life is one of
that the user will be
ble tech. Space is the biggest
less likely to suffer r. This alsomeans efficient the
discomfort through heat.
Lithiumion is the preferred battery option for longer life froma smaller space. This hazardous material can cause
and storage; and at l issues for transport,
the risk to users sho – Samsung and FitB
Wearable devices tend to use Bluetooth for connectivity rather than Wi-Fi. Tests have shown that Bluetooth technology can use 3%of the energy required by Wi-Fi.
Wearable tech is a growingmarket. Beyond the consumer market, sectors such as medical, military and industrial are increasingly relying on IoT-enabled wearables.
Potentially, manufacturing and supply chain considerations still pose significant challenges to OEMs. These are challenges that the best EMS providers have been meeting for a long time. Engage early and you’ll be wearing a smile.
T: 01293 543517
ELECTRONICS | MARCH 2019 21
east two big names shipping, handling
it – can attest that uld not be taken
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