Hearables are an exciting emerging market, the perfect fusion of wearable innovation and in-ear technology that continues to gain mass market appeal. Hearables are typically wireless devices with stringent battery, power and size requirements due to the rigorous use they undergo and because they practically function as “smart headphones” or “miniaturized in-ear computers.” As hearables become more integrated with other mobile devices such as smartphones, there is an even greater need for increased memory, faster processing, higher accuracy, longer battery life and efficient power management, all within a miniature form factor for in-ear applications in both wireless and tethered environments.
Power management circuits for hearables must be extremely small and efficient while supporting multiple battery types and providing the variety of rails needed for different circuit blocks. To reduce solution size, hearables rely on power management ICs (PMICs) which integrate several functions, such as regulation and charging, into a single compact device. The most versatile PMICs will support a wide input voltage range to support a variety of battery types over their entire range, from full charge to near empty. In addition to low-power operation and high efficiency, the more independent regulators that a PMIC provides improves solution efficiency for in-ear devices since the individual power rails can be tailored to the specific needs of the system.
Battery management becomes critical for hearables because they require tiny batteries and demand highly accurate fuel gauges that maximize battery life to prevent premature or sudden shutdown. Our family of ModelGauge™ fuel gauges maximizes battery run-times and feature EZ configuration which eliminates time-consuming battery characterization work. Our battery management ICs help reduce costs and solution size all while extending the crucial battery life needed for hearable devices.
Hearables require small, power-efficient audio solutions that enable engineers to design smaller, more comfortable in-ear devices while maintaining the high audio fidelity demanded by consumers. Furthermore, the move away from the 3.5mm jack and increased focus on wireless devices has greatly increased the need for small and efficient audio solutions. Maxim's audio solutions enable smaller, more comfortable hearables while offering the opportunity to integrate more functionality into the hearable and/or increase battery life. As hearables add functionality, they become increasingly complex and require solutions which can be as flexible as possible. The MAX98090 integrates an industry-leading, flexible clock lock-on mechanism that can operate in both the master and slave modes and at almost any frequency.
Power usage and processing capabilities are the most important selection criteria for a microcontroller for hearable applications. A system partitioning strategy should be used to decide which system functions are best integrated into the microcontroller and which can be handled externally. Because hearable devices read pulse and other body signals, the capabilities of any on-chip analog circuitry must be considered to ensure they can accurately process low-level body signals.
Hearables that monitor biometric signals typically require one or more in-ear optical sensors. Optical sensors use the reflection from an integrated LED to measure blood oxygen, pulse rate or other vital signs. To generate enough light intensity, the LEDs need to run at higher voltages (4V to 5V) than the typical range of Lithium-ion (Li+) batteries. The sensors used in hearables must also fit a small form factor while providing robust operation. Hearable solutions that provide plug-and-play software and robust algorithms help to simplify design.
Highly Integrated with Ultra-Low 6.5µA Operating Current
Wearable Power Management for Single-Cell Zinc Air, Silver Oxide, and Alkaline Battery Architectures
Maximizes Power Efficiency with Seamless Transition Between Buck and Boost Mode
Maximize Battery Run-Time with Industry's Smallest Size, Lowest Power Fuel Gauge
ModelGauge m5 EZ Eliminates Battery Characterization
Extends Battery Life of Wearable Electronics
Simplest and Smallest Charging Solution for Hand-Held Equipment