ARM developing processors to make wearables 'invisible'

ARM is developing new processors as it looks to make wearables smaller and more power efficient

ARM-based PCs, wearable devices and mobile devices

ARM-based PCs, wearable devices and mobile devices

In the gold rush for wearables, the key to success is invisibility and long battery life. ARM is pursuing the development of tiny processors that fit the profile.

The new CPUs and microcontrollers are being developed for the whole range from tiny data-collecting wearables to sophisticated wearables such as smartglasses that require more processing power, ARM executives said Monday at a press conference at Computex in Taipei.

To that end, ARM also announced its first CPU design center for the Asia market in Taiwan, where development of such processors will take place. The processors will fit into the Cortex-M line.

Many ARM-based processors already go into fitness trackers, smartwatches, health monitors and high-end wearables like Oakley's Airwave 1.5 ski glasses. The processors under development could consume just nanowatts of power and be in wearables that blend with the body easily, said Noel Hurley, deputy general manager for CPUs at ARM.

He gave the example of the ARM-based Freescale KL03 microcontroller, which is virtually invisible and used in thermostats and bulbs, Hurley said.

"They are like dust, you can scatter them around," Hurley said.

Wearables are growing fast, and there's a lot of ongoing experimentation with screen sizes, sensors and operating systems, Hurley said, adding that some ideas will succeed while some will fail.

But for all wearables, size, power, connectivity and data management matter the most, Hurley said. The battery is the heaviest component in such devices, and ARM is trying to reduce the power consumption of wearables to nanowatts through its processors, Hurley said. Smaller batteries could lead to wearables that better agree with the body.

He gave the example of health monitors in hospitals, which patients could easily rip off. But if the wearable is hidden somewhere, it would be less of a hassle to the patient and the hospital, which will get a continuous data feed without interruption.

"The weight and profile of the product is really important," Hurley said.

The new wearable CPU designs will put the sensors close to digital signal processors (DSPs), so data can be quickly processed for interaction with smartphones or other data collecting instruments.

ARM licenses its processor design to chip makers, which then use it in wearables and other devices. ARM processors are used in notable wearable devices such as Google Glass and Samsung's smartwatches. ARM offers the Mbed development platform where device makers can mix and match components, connectivity options and operating systems.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags computexArm Holdingsconsumer electronicsComponentsprocessors

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?