Will “wearables” be the next big thing?

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 8:22am
Bradd Johnson, Torex USA

Many design companies certainly hope so....

Some design considerations for engineers to ponder include size, battery life, heat dissipation, noise radiation, cost, and of course how the end product looks and feels. Let’s discuss some of these topics.

To reduce the size of their end product, engineers require smaller and more integrated components. Height becomes an issue, and many engineers request components no greater than 1mm in height. Thus component manufacturers must be sensitive to X, Y, and Z dimensions when they combine several functions into a single component.

Battery life
Consumers don’t like to change batteries or stop to recharge a device. This is no big revelation to design engineers, who try to eke out as much life as possible from a battery. There are trade-offs to consider, however; for example a step-down DC/DC converter is very efficient and provides much longer battery life, but it typically is more expensive than an LDO voltage regulator, and the DC/DC converter requires more external components. The ingenious engineers at Torex designed their XCL series of DC/DC converters to include an integrated inductor, and this part family only requires two external capacitors. For design engineers, this is something which deserves a standing ovation.

Heat dissipation
The more efficient the component, the less heat build-up which must be dissipated. 

Noise radiation
Wearable devices with wireless communication capability can be susceptible to the effects of noise. Some manufacturers reduce the size of their step-down DC/DC converters by increasing their operating frequency up to 6MHz, which permits the use of a smaller inductor. Unfortunately, design engineers have determined that such high frequencies produce increased noise. 

Ah, the nemesis of the design engineer!

If you are a commodity manager and you are reading this, please thank your engineers for all they do. 

If your engineers would like additional information, they may look at the Torex website:



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