Mar 26, 2013– Shanghai, China  (Techreleased) – The global proliferation of portable medical devices is making medical technology more accessible to consumers and transforming the healthcare industry by providing previously unavailable technology to end users, often in their own home. Medical device manufacturers are facing the challenges of the consumer marketplace including its price sensitivity and time-to-market pressure. To help simplify product development, reduce cost and speed time to market, Freescale Semiconductor is introducing a Healthcare Analog Front End (AFE) reference platform that includes hardware, schematics and software for easy prototyping.

Analog Front End Reference Platform
Analog Front End Reference Platform

The global medical device industry is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $228 billion by 2015, up from $164 billion in 2010, according to a recent industry research report by Espicom. According to Gartner, portable consumer medical devices, such as blood glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, insulin pumps and heart rate monitors, represent the fastest-growing segment in that market.

“The continued consumerization of healthcare is putting significant pressure on the medical device engineering community,” said Steven Dean, director of vertical solutions marketing at Freescale. “These engineers are expected to complete designs in a few months, and they appreciate anything vendors like Freescale can do to make the process easier and faster. Our healthcare-specific AFE reference platform allows engineers and external design firms to more easily prototype products and complete more projects in a shorter timeframe.”

Reducing development costs

The Freescale Healthcare AFE reference platform is a highly integrated HW/SW development platform, that helps reduce system cost, board size and complexity. The platform is built around the Kinetis K53 MCU which includes an integrated analog front end (AFE) featuring everything needed to capture biometric sensor data. The integrated AFE contains a precise voltage reference, four high performance amplifiers and two high-resolution ADC and DAC modules.

The reference platform, which is based on Freescale’s Tower System, includes the software and hardware needed to demonstrate or prototype an electrocardiograph (ECG), heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, blood glucose monitor, blood pressure monitor, spirometer or a Doppler ultrasound stethoscope. Application specific plug in boards allow the user to choose their application and level of integration. The six boards in the reference platform include:

  • MED-BPM for blood pressure monitors
  • MED-STETH for digital stethoscopes and fetal heart rate monitors
  • MED-EKG for EKG, heart rate monitoring
  • MED-SPI for spirometry
  • MED-SP02 for pulse oximetry
  • MED-GLU for glucometry

For customers that require higher performance and precision analog functionality Freescale has partnered with Linear Technology to offer specific plug in boards. The boards feature several high performance precision Operational Amplifiers for those customers who require or prefer an external analog solution.

“We are excited to collaborate with Freescale on this healthcare specific platform,” said Erik Soule, vice president, Signal Conditioning Products at Linear Technology. “Freescale’s powerful microcontroller technology in combination with Linear’s precision, high performance op amps provides designers of medical instrumentation with easy to use components for a range of medical equipment.”