Wearables Reference Platform hosts Freescale MCUs

January 07, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Supporting multiple applications, this flexible platform built on a hybrid architecture enables simplified design for a broad range of fitness, healthcare and infotainment wearables.

For quickly-evolving consumer wearables market, Freescale Semiconductor is enabling an open-source, scalable reference platform that gives OEMs building blocks to rapidly develop a wide range of wearable product designs from a common platform.

Unlike other wearable solutions, the new platform is not limited to just one form factor or product category. The flexible, system-level design kit supports embedded wireless charging, incorporates processors and sensors within a hybrid architecture for scalability and flexibility, and comes with open-source software. The wearables reference platform (WaRP) is engineered to open up design creativity for multiple vertical segments such as sports monitors, smart glasses, activity trackers, smart watches and healthcare/medical applications.

“Wearables represent one of the ultimate edge node sensors for the Internet of Things, and hold tremendous promise for equipment makers, service providers and consumers alike,” said Rajeev Kumar, director of worldwide marketing and business development for Freescale’s Microcontrollers business. Freescale quotes analysts Juniper Research, saying that retail revenue from smart wearable devices will reach $19 billion by 2018, compared with $1.4 billion in 2013. The firm also projects that sales of smart wearable devices will approach 130 million units by 2018, which is 10 times higher than the number estimated to sell in 2013.

WaRP speeds and simplifies development by addressing many of the top technology challenges of the wearables market – connectivity, usability, battery life and miniaturisation – thereby freeing developers to focus on creating differentiated features. The platform is built on Freescale’s i.MX 6SoloLite ARM Cortex-A9 apps processor as the core processing unit, supports the Android OS, and integrates production-grade silicon, software and hardware. The BOM-optimised hybrid architecture also hosts Freescale’s Xtrinsic MMA9553 turn-key pedometer, FXOS8700 electronic compass and ARM Cortex-M0+ Kinetis KL16 microcontroller.

WaRP is a result of collaboration between Freescale, Kynetics and Revolution Robotics . Kynetics provides the expertise for the platform’s software, and Revolution Robotics supplies the solution’s hardware. Freescale, Kynetics and Revolution Robotics worked together to develop