Wireless Applications

Radio Chip for Medical Wireless, Remote Sensor Devices

March 18, 2009

Consuming five times less power than competing devices, the new radio chip from Zarlink enables broad range of medical, sensor and green communication applications.


OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire) - Zarlink Semiconductor Inc. (TSX:ZL) introduced a new radio chip that delivers a combination of ultra-low peak power and very high efficiency to enable continuous monitoring in a broad range of medical and sensor applications.

Customers are evaluating the ZL70250 radio chip for use in on-body devices such as electrocardiograms (ECGs) that record heart activity, oximetry systems that measure oxygen levels in the blood (SpO2), continuous glucose monitors (CGM) for diabetes patients, and sound and voice communication systems. The radio chip is also being used in devices that must operate within very confined spaces, such as inside the mouth.

Consuming less that 2 mW with an efficiency of 11 nJ/bit—five times less power than competing devices—the ZL70250 radio chip allows designers to significantly shrink the size of existing wireless devices and extend operating life. In addition, the ultra-low power performance allows the device to be operated directly from coin cell batteries, enabling the design of very compact devices previously not possible due to battery size limitations.

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."

Ultra Low-Power Performance
The ZL70250 radio chip typically consumes 2 mA total in both the transmit and receive mode to enable extremely long battery life or very small battery size without requiring bulky charge storage capacitors. The very low supply voltage of 1 to 2 V further reduces power consumption and allows the device to be powered from a single-cell battery. A user interface control enables the designer to customize a number of parameters depending on the application to fully optimize power use.

The chip operates in the 795–965 MHz frequency bands, and offers data rates up to 186 Kbps at distances as far as a few hundred meters. The high data rate allows short data bursts and supports bi-directional voice communications. Duty cycling can be employed for applications that do not require a continuous communication link to further reduce power consumption.

Availability and Support
The ZL70250 is in full production and is available as a 2 mm x 3 mm bumped die to enable applications with an extremely small footprint. Zarlink will be introducing new radio modules integrating the ZL70250 product later this year. The device is fully supported by the ZLE70250 RF Telemetry Application Development Kit (ADK). The kit includes all hardware and software necessary to quickly and easily design wireless communication systems based on the ZL70250 transceiver chip.

About Zarlink Semiconductor
For over 30 years, Zarlink Semiconductor has delivered semiconductor solutions that drive the capabilities of voice, enterprise, broadband and wireless communications. The Company's success is built on its technology strengths including voice and data networks, optoelectronics and ultra low-power communications.


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