The medical electronics market, including sensors, memory devices, microcontrollers, batteries, and displays for wired and wireless medical imaging, monitoring, and implantable devices, is expected to reach $5.1 billion in 2019 and to grow to $6.6 billion by 2025, according to a report from ResearchAndMarkets.com.
A couple of things happening in the medical industry are driving both market growth and technology advances. People, especially Baby Boomers, are taking better care of themselves and want to monitor their personal health at home. This is pushing the demand for smarter and connected devices that can monitor treatments for health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma.
At the same time, consumers’ appetite for wearables, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, that track and monitor activity and overall health continues to grow, but they demand higher accuracy, more functionality, and better security, as well as ever-smaller devices.
There is also increased demand for internet of things (IoT)-based medical devices, according to the ResearchAndMarkets.com report, including diagnostic imaging devices, cardiac monitors, respiratory monitors, hemodynamic monitors, and implantable devices.
The IoT is already creating new opportunities for medical devices to better serve doctors and patients by adding connectivity to traditionally offline devices, said Adrie Van Meijeren, product marketing group manager, low power connectivity, Dialog Semiconductor. Examples are connected glucose meters and inhalers, which have been made smarter to improve patient care.
What has helped deliver these improved medical devices are advancements in system on chip (SoC) design . These include new integrated circuits that simultaneously reduce the power footprint, shrink the amount of board space needed for components, and lower component costs, said Van Meijeren.
Advances in medical devices also require improvements across component technologies, especially in sensor design.
Highly miniaturized medical wearable devices call for a significant enhancement in sensing capabilities because health care and fitness monitors mandate greater accuracy in measuring human biometrics, such as body temperature and heart rate, said contributing writer Majeed Ahmad.
He reported that there are three major design considerations for wearable health-care device developers as they select and integrate tiny sensors into their portable designs, and the process starts with the sensitivity and accuracy of the sensor devices.
Consumers are also looking for smaller, more power-efficient, and higher sound-quality hearing aids, and MEMS microphones are well-positioned to meet those expectations, said contributing writer Anne-Françoise Pelé. She found that micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) microphones are increasingly displacing traditional electret condenser microphones in hearing aids as performance improves and packages shrink.
But it takes a village, so advances also are necessary in other component areas, such as power devices and microprocessors (MPUs) and microcontrollers (MCUs). And growth will depend on design cost reductions.
Power management plays a big role in keeping these devices running efficiently. Power management in a medical device encompasses not only external batteries and power supplies, but also integrated semiconductor solutions that help manage energy in any application, ranging from high-power imaging systems to portable and implantable devices, said contributing writer Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio.
He said the key requirements of OEM medical designs include the selection of low-power components, the ability to place devices in low-power states, a powerful CPU core to control and perform advanced calculations, and a large non-volatile memory to store both program images and user data. Plus, medical designs require a host of peripherals to connect various analog or digital systems.
Not only does the CPU have to control and perform advanced calculations, but it also requires added security to safeguard connected devices.
Medical devices encompass a range of products, from ultrasound equipment to fitness trackers, and each application calls for different requirements, but they are all looking for MPUs and MCUs that can deliver performance in the areas of execution, reliability, security, power savings, and connectivity. These ultra-low-power processors are packed with analog peripherals that deliver several benefits, including high reliability, reduced noise, low latency, and decreased costs.
All of these components need to operate together to ensure optimal efficiency, thwart cybersecurity risks posed by connected medical devices, and deliver highly accurate readings.