MediaTek Announces ECG And PPG Biosensor For Wearables

Today, MediaTek announced the new MT2511 biosensor, which can obtain electrocardiography (ECG) and photoplethysmography (PPG) signals simultaneously from a user of a wearable or fitness device.  

The PPG mode illuminates part of the body with its LED lights to determine the heart rate through the reflection of the light during changes in a user's blood flow. The chip also supports the more accurate ECG mode, which can measure voltage between multiple electrodes applied on the body.

"The mobile health market is one of the fastest growing technology sectors. We can only begin to imagine how health-related wearables will improve both medical care and everyday wellness all around the world," said JC Hsu, MediaTek's Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the IoT business unit. "With support for ECG and PPG and limited power needs, the fully integrated MT2511 is ideal for a variety of devices, including fitness trackers, active lifestyle smart watches and sports bands," he added.

The company says that the chip is very low-power, with its active mode power consumption being 0.6mA while capturing PPG and 0.6mA for ECG. When both modes are activated, the power consumption can go up to 1.25mA.

The chip also comes with 4KB SRAM to optimize the power consumption when it's monitoring the user's heart rate during sleep, and it integrates LED boost driver circuit for saving layout space. The biosensor supports a greater than 100db dynamic range and high sample rate from 64 to 4KHz, which means it can eliminate interference and motion artifacts when collecting the heart's electric signals.

According to MediaTek, the MT2511 biosensor can be used for medical applications such as electromyography (EMG), electroencephalography (EEG), pulse oximetry (SpO2) and blood pressure, thanks to its ability to gather accurate pulse data. The chip can be used in wearables, such as Android Wear devices, or even devices that don't have touchscreens where they can be paired with only a microcontroller unit (MCU).

The MediaTek MT2511 biosensor will begin mass production in the first half of 2016. 

Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu. 

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Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.