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B-Secur: Delivering Powerful ECG Algorithms and Analytics with MAX32660

Founded in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2002, B-Secur aims to revolutionize the way that people experience technology in the connected world each day by tapping into their unique heartbeats. After several years immersed in deep scientific research into electrocardiogram (ECG) technology, the company has since been focused on commercializing the application of its patented ECG algorithm for various use cases.

B-Secur’s HeartKey® consists of a suite of powerful ECG algorithms for user identification, health, and wellness. “The inspiration around ECG and HeartKey is being able to take biometrics to the next level, enabling the development of trusted biosensing technology,” said Ben Carter, the company’s CCO. “ECG in a single moment tells us who you are and how you are at the same time, and can help protect our lives, data, and devices. With heart disease being the world’s single biggest killer, we are perfectly positioned to save lives.”

The company envisions, as early use cases, ECG technology being integrated into next-generation devices such as wearables, connected cars, game controllers, and even smart clothing. “Captured daily, this highly rich personal data can also be shared with our doctors, surgeons, life insurance, and healthcare companies, allowing for remote review and management and also for us to know more about ourselves in a highly convenient way,” explained Carter. “In the future, we see the technology enabling a true ecosystem around smart cities, mobility, and the future of healthcare.”

B-Secur’s continued innovation has resulted in a lengthy feature roadmap, including Heart Rate and Arrhythmia Detection Algorithms which are undergoing regulatory clearance for medical use.

Challenges

With HeartKey, users can easily obtain personal and protected health checks from their devices. By combining health and wellness insights with user ID data, the solution builds up a reliable user profile that can deliver an understanding of longer-term health trends. Traditionally, ECG measurements are taken from 12-lead wet electrodes in a hospital setting. B-Secur’s customers, however, seek medical-grade performance from dry electrodes in a variety of form factors such as smart wearables, smart clothing, or a car steering wheel. These measurements will generally be taken in noisy environments with some user movement. As such, B-Secur designed its algorithms for excellent noise performance within the most challenging of environments, maintaining accuracy equivalent to that of lying on a hospital bed. In order to accommodate this vast range of use cases, HeartKey algorithms subsequently require an accompanying microcontroller with low power consumption that is small in size.

Solution and Benefits

B-Secur selected the MAX32660 Arm® Cortex®-M4 processor-based microcontroller with floating-point unit (FPU) capabilities to meet its technical requirements and its customers’ form factor demands. “Particularly in wearables, the end devices must be something a consumer will wear regularly, so board real estate is at a premium. Combining the advanced HeartKey algorithm features within the small form factor of the MAX32660 is something we know our end customers value,” said Carter.

The company also appreciates the memory capacity of the MAX32660 (256KB flash/96KB SRAM), its low power operation (85µA/MHz active executing from flash), and its secure bootloader—all available in a tiny form factors like the 3mm x 3mm TQFN or the 1.6mm x 1.6mm WLP. Noted Carter, “As a software company, building IP protection into our commercial framework is naturally part of our business model. The ability to use Maxim’s secure bootloader is a great vehicle to deliver our encrypted algorithms to our customers.”

The combined solution of Maxim’s Ultra-Low Power Microcontroller along with B-secur’s HeartKey algorithms is called the MAX32663A – an Ultra-Low Power ECG Biometric Sensor Hub. The sensor hub enables seamless communication with Maxim’s low power ECG sensors (e.g. MAX30003) that provides a complete solution which delivers health information and insights to an application. It also allows faster time to market with a proven ECG solution that avoids algorithm licensing burden.

As B-Secur expands its portfolio of algorithms, the company is excited to continue collaborating with Maxim to deliver its world-class solutions.

Challenges

  • Deliver medical-grade ECG performance from dry electrodes in a variety of form factors

Solutions

Benefits

  • Small, low-power micro delivered memory capacity and security features to meet company’s technical requirements

Combining the advanced HeartKey algorithm features within the small form factor of the MAX32660 is something we know our end customers value.
“Combining the advanced HeartKey® algorithm features within the small form factor of the MAX32660 is something we know our end customers value.”