Get to Market Quickly with Your Secure Wearable Health Designs

March 28, 2017

Kris Ardis By: Kris Ardis
Executive Director, Micros & Security Business Unit, Maxim Integrated 


You’re driving on a two-lane highway and, suddenly, the on-coming car swerves in front of you, narrowly missing your front bumper. Your rapid heartbeat indicates how startled you were, but so, too, do the electrical properties of your skin. Galvanic skin response (GSR), also called electro-dermal activity (EDA), measures emotional arousal. When we sweat, our sweat glands conduct electricity. So, the higher the emotional arousal, the higher the skin conductance.

“Our skin gives away a lot of information on how we feel when we’re exposed to emotionally loaded images, videos, events, or other kinds of stimuli…No matter whether we are stressed, nervous, fearful, psyched up, stoked, baffled, or surprised—whenever we are emotionally aroused, the electrical conductivity of our skin subtly changes,” notes iMotions in a blog post, “Galvanic Skin Response (GSR): The Definitive Pocket Guide.”

Measuring GSR can be an important element not only for health-related applications but also for more commercial purposes, like product development, brand research, and marketing. From a healthcare standpoint, integrating GSR readings with output from sensors collecting other health parameters, like heart rate, can provide a fuller picture of a person’s emotional state. According to iMotions, which provides biometric research technology, biometric sensors that would nicely complement GSR data include:

  • Eye tracking
  • Facial expression analysis
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Electromyographic (EMG)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Fast Prototyping for Faster Time to Market

Shipments of healthcare wearable devices are expected to hit 98 million units annually by 2021, according to Tractica. The market intelligence firm notes that “wearable devices are starting to be employed for a wide range of healthcare-related applications including treatment of chronic disease, remote patient monitoring, eldercare, and wellness programs.” Even though the use cases for wearable health devices are expanding, the market remains very competitive—and getting your product out the door quickly provides an advantage.

Being able to quickly prototype your design concept can ultimately help you get to market faster. For GSR designs—or any wearable health device for that matter—security is also an essential consideration. Maxim offers a development platform that can help you address challenges around your design cycle, design security, and power consumption. The MAX32600MBED provides a platform for evaluating the MAX32600 ARM® Cortex®-M3 wellness measurement microcontroller. The board includes precision analog front end (AFE) connections, I/O access through Arduino™-compatible connectors, and additional I/O access via 100mil x 100mil headers, USB interface, and other general-purpose I/O devices. Its on-board ARM mbed™ Hardware Development Kit (HDK) interface enables fast connection to toolchains. The board’s AFE requires only a few discrete positioners and fasteners for measuring GSR. Also, its low overall system power extends battery life. So, using the board, you can quickly see the benefits of high integration for wearable and health monitoring applications.

MAX32600MBED ARM mbed development platform

MAX32600MBED ARM mbed development platform.

To stand up to the ever-increasing security threats targeting embedded and medical devices, we offer MAX32600 variants that integrate an advanced security toolbox called a ’trust protection unit’, enabling end-to-end security with your device as one of the endpoints.

In addition to measuring GSR, the MAX32600 can also be used for blood glucose metering, pulse oximetry measurement, and other wearable medical devices. Last fall, at Yale’s YHack hackathon, one group of engineering students used the MAX32600MBED and a MAXREFDES99# LED array shield to create a prototype of a system that helps blind people read signs around them. Images captured on mobile phones are sent to Google’s Cloud Vision API to pull text from the images that are then converted into Braille.

What can you create with the MAX32600MBED?