Tag Archives: activity monitors

“Always on” with Hillcrest Freespace and Atmel MCUs

Hillcrest Labs has announced that Coolpad Group (previously China Wireless) is using the company’s sensor hub software to enable “always on” sensing for Coolpad smartphones.


More specifically, Hillcrest’s Freespace software will run on Atmel’s low-power microcontroller (MCU) solutions to provide high performance sensor fusion, gesture recognition and always on context awareness capabilities – with dramatically lower power consumption and extended battery life.

“Coolpad realizes that sensors are critical to differentiate its functionality and maintain its dramatic growth in the global smartphone market,” said Chad Lucien, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hillcrest Labs. “We’re proud to have been selected by Coolpad to provide the sensor hub functionality that will define its new mobile experience and enable context awareness, augmented reality, improved navigation and better gaming.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, sensor hubs are a separate class of chips designed to offload sensor management from the main processor for mobile phones and other devices. Essentially, they reduce the power requirements to add always on sensing in smartphones, tablets and wearables devices such as activity monitors, smartwatches, as well as head mounted displays (HMDs).

This enables gesture control, context awareness, pedestrian navigation, augmented reality, health and fitness monitoring, along with immersive gaming. Hillcrest’s sensor hub software products combine an array of sophisticated algorithms to provide low power, high performance sensor fusion and transform sensor data into valuable application-ready information.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Hillcrest’s official site here and Atmel’s MCU product page here.

Wearables shipments expected to surge

Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Center (IEK) analyst Hou Chun-Yuan says worldwide wearable device shipments will increase approximately 499 percent to 190 million units in 2018, up from 31.7 million units 2014. 

According to Hou, the global market for wearable devices like smartwatches and wristbands is forecast to grow significantly this year as various technical barriers fall by the wayside.

However, higher entry barriers for smartglasses and bioelectronics will (initially) limit vendors to a relatively smaller number of shipped devices compared to their smartwatch and wristband counterparts.

“Wearable devices will become the information and communications technology’s [ICT] next growth driver as demand for mobile devices, as well as traditional PCs, weakens,” Hou told a Taipei forum in a statement quoted by Helen Ku of the Taipei Times. 

More specifically, Hou says new wearable devices in 2014 will likely be accessories to smartphones. Linking via Bluetooth, wearables such as smartwatches and wristbands will be tasked with monitoring and transmitting heart rates.

In addition, Hou notes that smartglasses have the potential to generate huge demand because they can perform tasks from the first-person point of view.

“Smartglasses will become ‘killer products’ as they can take pictures within a wink of the eye, or display information to the person in a direct way,” he added.

Last, but certainly not least, Hou emphasized that current wearable devices will require more user-friendly designs, along with low-power sipping chipsets. 

Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research recently expressed similar sentiments.

“The market for wearable computing devices is driven by a growing range of wireless connected wearable sports, fitness and wellbeing devices,” he confirmed. “Heart rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smartwatches and glasses for some years to come and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market.”