Making smaller and longer lasting electronic medical devices generally involves either improving batteries or making more efficient use of the electricity. Zarlink, a semiconductor company that makes radio chips for wireless medical devices, announced a new product that takes aim at the second half of this equation, device efficiency. Their newly announced chip, the ZL™70250, is 2mm by 3mm in size and consumes five times less power than competing devices. It only sucks down 2 milliamps of electricity (@ 1-2 volts), or about 2 milliwatts — 500 times less than the average bed stand clock radio (and, just for fun, 600,000 times less than your average toaster). The chip has a range of up to a few hundred meters and is intended for devices such as continuous glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, or SpO2 monitors.
A hopeful consequence of more efficient radio chips like these is the creation of devices that would recharge themselves either by using body heat or body motion.
From the press release:
The radio chip’s extremely low power characteristics also make it ideal for “green” communication systems powered by emerging energy-harvesting techniques. This includes solar powered wireless sensor networks used to monitor environmental changes, and on-body medical devices that gather power from body heat.
“Zarlink has solved the power and size challenges faced by designers when developing compact wireless devices that must support continuous monitoring,” said Didier Sagan, marketing manager with Zarlink’s Medical Products Group. “Zarlink is a leading provider of ultra-low power radios for the medical telemetry market. Building on this expertise, the ZL70250 chip makes wireless telemetry possible in a new generation of devices. In addition, the highly integrated chip and supporting application development kit helps simplify design complexity, reduce component count, and speed time-to-market.”