The IoMT has ushered in a new era for connected medical technology. But battery life is often mentioned as one of the impediments to the advancement of IoMT. Batteries in medical devices need a long lifespan so that users aren’t having to constantly recharge or replace them. A possible game-changing technology developed by San Diego-based Innophase may be about to change all of that. The technology uses a new way of processing wireless signals to dramatically improve battery life. For many medical devices, it might be the first time they can “cut the cord.”
Interestingly, underlying radio architectures haven’t changed much in 25 years. Innophase’s technology, called PolaRFusionTM, takes a revolutionary new approach to sending and receiving signals by moving much of the radio function away from power-hungry analog circuits and into efficient digital logic.
“Moving the radio function from the analog to the digital domain enables the batteries to last two to eight times longer in standard Wi-Fi IoMT application,” says Thomas Lee, vice president of sales and marketing for Innophase.
Typical wireless chips are limited by a law of diminishing returns, he says. Analog circuits, unlike digital logic, don’t get much smaller or reduce their power requirements as they move to more advanced semiconductor process technologies. Moreover, Lee explains that most IoMT applications are asleep most of the time, waiting minutes or even hours to take a reading from a sensor or instrument — not even receiving and transmitting data. The analog-dominant radios, not the IoMT application, consume a majority of IoMT hardware power. In other words, it’s the connectivity — not the transmission of data — that eats most of a battery’s life.
The PolaRFusion architecture integrates low-cost, nonlinear digital signal processors to receive, process, and transmit industry standard protocols under software control. The result is a wireless solution with excellent sensitivity, signal output levels, data rates, and other critical RF specifications. The digital platform is also designed to lower the overall system cost by embedding the entire wireless platform into the SoC running the IoMT application. The platform runs the IoMT application along with a variety of protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee — all in software. Although the company has applied its technology first to Wi-Fi, it has plans to apply it to cellular standards optimized for IoMT applications such as NB-IoT and CAT-M. While Wi-Fi requires devices to be connected to an access point, cellular-based wireless technologies offer much more flexibility for those applications that require mobile connectivity.
This approach to RF signal processing has the potential to be a disruptive technology in the development of IoMT products. An ultralow power technology could put IoMT healthcare delivery on a fast track.
The products are in the final stages of development and field testing, with volume production slated for early next year.
Editor and Director of Medical Content
To learn more about the technology, go here.