Healthcare wearables improve quality of care for seniors

Infineon / Mitsubishi / Fuji / Semikron / Eupec / IXYS

Healthcare wearables improve quality of care for seniors

Posted Date: 2024-01-19

As the world's population ages, there is increasing pressure on health and assisted living facilities to provide adequate care for the elderly. At this time, remote monitoring solutions based on cellular IoT are filling this gap, providing convenience and accuracy for the elderly. Devices that enable remote monitoring improve the quality of medical care for the elderly. This article will discuss for you the current dilemmas faced by the elderly in medical care and the related solutions launched by Nordic.

The proportion of older people using technology is still low

Countries around the world are often faced with the problem of population aging, and the elderly are the main group who often need to go to the hospital for medical treatment, which places a heavy burden on governments. However, most patients do not like to go to the hospital to see a doctor or move from their home to an elderly care facility because in addition to the inconvenience of moving out of their long-term home, patients will also lose their independence and feel Factors such as boredom, loneliness or fear of being forgotten are common reasons for resistance to moving to an aged care facility.

While there is no way to reverse the passage of time and the aging process, as technology increasingly provides ways to assist people in staying out of hospital and aged care in some cases, healthcare service delivery has shifted to become increasingly dependent on Technology and data lead to enable “virtual” care away from the hospital or doctor’s office. But while the pandemic may have accelerated technology adoption, a significant barrier to adoption is that many older adults don’t trust or simply don’t understand technology, making it difficult to actually implement it.

While technology use among people over 65 has grown significantly over the past decade, only 61% of Americans in that age group still own a smartphone today, according to a recent Pew Research study. , while only 75% of people are Internet users. Compared with smartphone ownership (96%) and Internet usage (99%) among 18 to 29-year-olds, penetration rates are still low. When it comes to wearables, adoption among older Americans is even lower, with only 19% of people over 55 owning such devices in 2021, according to Statista. Going forward, there must be a gradual increase in the adoption of technology solutions by older adults to help them stay in their own homes or to help aged care facilities provide more effective care amid staffing shortages.

Convenience of Cellular IoT Boosts Technology Utilization for Seniors

While Bluetooth Low Energy remains the most popular wireless technology for connected wearables, cellular IoT is becoming increasingly popular in health-related wearables because it eliminates the need for intermediate connectivity, as far as the wearer is concerned Smartphone or gateway for continuous monitoring without intervention. This means a lot for seniors, as there is no need to pair, no smartphone, no need to remember Wi-Fi network passwords, just data reliably and securely sent to the cloud.

Since older people have a more challenging time using new technology, these wearable devices must be designed with ease of use in mind and must be easy for users to operate without having to find an app on their phone or trying to remember a username and password. This is especially important because time is of the essence for missing or injured persons.

Reassuringly, for life-or-death applications, LTE-M and NB-IoT low-power cellular IoT provide the gold standard for reliable and secure connectivity. In terms of coverage, operators have launched the same nationwide coverage network as mobile phone networks globally. This means that most industrialized countries, and an increasing number of developing countries, provide ubiquitous NB-IoT and/or LTE-M coverage.

Cellular IoT is also the most secure communications technology, with built-in security features being part of the 3GPP standards. Additional security can also be applied to chip-scale devices providing a secure design product development process. For example, Nordic's nRF9160 low-power SiP integrates an LTE-M/NB-IoT modem, leveraging the additional security layers of Arm TrustZone and Arm CryptoCell for Internet-level encryption and application protection. This level of security provides peace of mind to both developers and consumers, especially when it comes to medical wearables handling and transmitting potentially sensitive personal information.

Health monitoring wearable devices based on cellular IoT are increasingly popular

Currently, many companies have developed wearable devices for health monitoring of the elderly based on cellular IoT, which can be used to track and monitor individuals with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or autism, and can be used in elderly care facilities or Individuals living independently. These wearable devices support LTE-M connectivity and GNSS positioning, which can report the wearer's location to family, friends or caregivers if the wearer goes missing, and also integrate accelerometers to detect if the wearer may have fallen.

In addition, there are also health wearable devices that use cloud cellular IoT connectivity to continuously monitor and record a range of key health indicators. These devices can integrate pulse oximeters, temperature and inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors to determine heart rate, blood pressure, etc. Oxygen, blood pressure and body temperature vital signs, and even includes an ECG sensor to record heartbeat and rhythm, as well as provide GPS positioning and fall detection capabilities.

Wearables can also go one step further by integrating cellular IoT and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity into its new healthcare wearables, which can serve the dual purpose of telehealth/remote care solutions and multi-function devices that the wearer can Connects to their smartphone and acts as a smartwatch for activity recording, inactivity alarms, sleep monitoring and fall detection.

These capabilities enable Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity via Nordic's nRF52832, supporting features such as call and notification relay from smartphones to wearables, and also support Bluetooth Low Energy beacon profiles, allowing beacon accessories to be connected to For indoor location tracking.

Compact and highly integrated system-in-package device

The nRF9160 launched by Nordic adopts a low-power system-in-package (SiP) and integrates LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS. This is a compact and highly integrated system-in-package (SiP) that enables the latest Low-power LTE technology and advanced processing and secure access capabilities, yet easy to use and suitable for a variety of single-device low-power cellular Internet of Things (cIoT) designs.

nRF9160 has built-in Arm Cortex-M33 application-specific processor, full LTE modem, radio frequency front end (RFFE) and power management system. nRF9160 is the market-leading cellular IoT solution that is compact, complete and energy-saving. The nRF9160 integrated modem supports LTE-M and NB-IoT and can operate globally without any regional specialization. All power-saving features, including eDRX and PSM, support IPv4/IPv6, support transport and security (TCP/TLS) levels, and enable modem firmware upgrades via secure, encrypted Firmware Over-the-Air Updates (FOTA).

The nRF9160's built-in Arm Cortex-M33 application processor is equipped with 1 MB flash memory and 256 KB RAM, making advanced application development possible in a single device solution, and integrates a GPS receiver to provide various operating modes to suit various uses Application of location tracking function. nRF9160 also has a rich built-in general interface and peripheral selection, including 12-bit ADC, RTC, SPI, I²C, I²S, UARTE, PDM and PWM.

nRF9160 uses Arm TrustZone technology to isolate and protect the security of firmware and hardware including memory and peripherals, making its security leading among similar products. Arm TrustZone helps build reliable, secure IoT applications with features such as secure boot, trusted firmware updates and root-of-trust enforcement without compromising performance.

nRF9160 supports Arm CryptoCell to further enhance security by providing cryptographic algorithms and security resources to help protect your IoT applications from various attack threats. CryptoCell is designed for high-performance cryptographic solutions optimized for power-constrained devices. The nRF9160 supports both SIM and eSIM cards for connection and authentication with mobile network operators.

The nRF9160 hardware and development kit are in mass production and are suitable for complete end-to-end sensor to cloud development. Nordic is still developing new features and optimizing performance. nRF9160 supports LTE bands B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B8, B12, B13, B14, B17, B18, B19, B20, B25, B26, B28 and B66 and has been certified.

Bluetooth low energy SoC supporting multi-protocol and multi-function

Nordic’s other nRF52832 system-on-chip (SoC) is a versatile Bluetooth 5.4 SoC that supports Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth Mesh and NFC. The nRF52832 is a general-purpose multi-protocol SoC that meets the need for advanced Bluetooth® Low Energy. application challenges of power consumption, protocol concurrency, and rich peripherals and feature sets. Additionally, it provides a lot of memory space for flash and RAM.

The nRF52832 uses multi-protocol with full protocol concurrency capabilities. It supports Bluetooth Low Energy, including high transmission speed of 2 Mbps. Bluetooth Mesh can run simultaneously with Bluetooth Low Energy, allowing smartphones to configure, access, configure and control Mesh nodes. NFC, ANT and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols are also supported.

The nRF52832 is based on the Arm® Cortex™-M4 CPU with floating point unit, clocked at 64 MHz. Built-in NFC-A tag for simplified pairing and payment solutions. It has many digital peripherals and interfaces, such as PDM and I2S for digital microphones and audio, and achieves extremely low power consumption through a sophisticated on-chip adaptive power management system.


A growing number of remote monitoring technology solutions allow seniors to live more comfortably at home, away from hospitals and aged care centres. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of wireless medical solutions, but users over the age of 60 are currently underrepresented in the user base. Cellular IoT is favored for remote monitoring devices because it is reliable, secure and does not require smartphones, gateways or user intervention. , related products will have great potential for future market development. The wireless solution launched by Nordic will reduce the size and power consumption of remote monitoring equipment, and is worthy of further understanding and adoption by manufacturers interested in entering the healthcare application market.

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