Toshiba Corporation has announced the development of an innovative low power control technology for microcontrollers supporting multi-sensor wearable devices. Applied to an activity monitoring application using the company’s TZ1001MBG microcontroller(MCU), the new control technology achieved a 31% reduction in power consumption. The development will be announced at COOL Chips XVIII in Yokohama, Japan, on April 15, 2015.
The goal for battery-operated wearable devices is a long run time without charging, with a physically small battery. This requires power-saving technologies. MCU embedded in wearable devices typically support several low power modes that is the devises is idle automatically. But the transition from low power mode to active mode requires some power consumption. This requires wearable devices to reduce the frequency of mode transition. However, the number of sensors embedded in wearable devices is increasing, requiring the microcontroller to respond to sensors more frequently, with a mode transition every time it does.
Toshiba’s technology reduces the frequency of the mode transition by gathering the separate data acquisitions from multiple sensors which get data at their own regular intervals. In this way, the number of mode transitions can be decreased, hence the reduction of power consumption from mode transitions is achieved. On the other hand, if aggregating leads to significant failures in data acquisitions, it will have a considerably negative impact of the functions of the application, such as step measurement or behavior analysis in activity monitors. Toshiba has developed an aggregating method that optimizing timing of data acquisition to suppress failures.
To evaluate the method, Toshiba ran an activity monitoring application on TZ1001MBG. The result showed a 31% power reduction, proving efficient power saving technology. Toshiba has now embedded this technology into TZ1000 series MCU.
Toshiba will continue to research this technology toward achieving practical applications in a few years and providing an ultra-low power platform for wearable devices.


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