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Frost & Sullivan Recognizes Holst Centre and imec for Its Path Breaking Wearable Energy Harvester Technology
Date:2/2/2010

utonomous wearable electrocardiography (ECG) system and a radio which transmits the ECG signal real-time to a base station. Thanks to clever optimization, the power consumption of the electronics has been largely reduced. The thickness of the system components does not exceed 6.5 mm and can be easily integrated into fabric. Once installed, the system requires no technical maintenance.

"The personal devices, which couldn't be made portable due to their large sizes or high power requirements can now be developed in the form of easy to wear and care gadgets," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Krzysztof Grzybowski. "This approach is valid for monitoring systems and related personal low-power appliances that could be integrated in clothes, e.g. watches. On the other hand, devices like mobile phones currently still use too much power to be powered by body heat.

Holst Centre and imec's demonstrated energy harvesting solution provides tens of microwatts of energy per square centimetre of the skin for modules with 3x4 cm2 dimensions. In this specific application, the energy harvesting module efficiency was sufficient to operate the wearable ECG using fourteen units integrated in a shirt and occupying less than 1.5 per cent of its total area. The device operation was tested in indoor and outdoor conditions with outdoor clothes worn on and off. During energy harvesting, the power management unit of the presented system uses the ASIC converter to charge two 2.4V batteries, which are powering the second stage DC/DC converter supplying the ECG unit. In all cases, the system performance was sufficient to operate the ECG.

Further, the whole unit is fortified against the mechanical stress that would accidentally destroy the fragile thermopiles of the energy harvester. The shock protection, made of thermally isolating material, is placed between the radiator and the hot end of the device (exposed to the s
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