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BIOELECTRONICS SHRINKS WIRELESS WEARABLE DEVICES

LEUVEN, Belgium - IMEC has developed a miniature 1 cm3 3-dimensional stacked system-in-a-cube (SiC) for wireless bioelectronic communications systems.


  The low-power 3D SiC, which comprises a radio and digital signal processing (DSP), has broad application in a variety of wireless products, ranging from monitors for human-body information to environmental data.
 The bioelectronics breakthrough will be first incorporated into a wearable, wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) developed by IMEC and the University Hospital here, last year. Using the 3D SiC, patients can wear a comfortable device and maintain maximum mobility during the electroencephalogram, eliminating the hospital stay traditionally required for this procedure.


  The system-in-a-cube (SiC) was developed as part of IMEC’s Human++ program, which envisions similar SiCs as sensor nodes constituting a body area network (BAN). The BAN will be used to gather vital body information into a central intelligent node, which in turn will communicate wirelessly with a base station. Such BANs require a number of small low-power intelligent wireless nodes with sufficient computing power, wireless capabilities and integrated antenna.
 IMEC’s Human++ program combines experience and expertise in wireless communications, packaging techniques, energy scavenging technologies and low-power design techniques in order to develop devices, which improve the quality of life. Current work focuses on the complete integration of the wearable wireless EEG prototype in the 1 cm3 SiC.
 This first 3D-stack prototype integrates a commercial low-power 8 MIPS (million instructions per second) microcontroller and a 2.4 GHz wireless transceiver, crystals and other necessary passives, as well as a custom-designed matched dipole antenna. Both the microcontroller and wireless transceiver are state-of-the-art in their power consumption.
 The high level of integration in a system no larger than 1 cm3 was achieved through Z-axis, or ?´3D’, stacking of separate layers with different functionality.