I recently attended the Wearable Tech Conference, July 23−24, at the Javitz Center in New York City. Thanks to our embedded MCP (eMCP) support of Freescale’s wearables reference platform (see WaRPboard.org), Micron was invited to share Freescale’s booth space and help answer memory-related questions about the WaRPboard.
Evolution of Wearables
At the conference, Pebble’s Myriam Joire gave an entertaining keynote on the evolution of wearables. She began with the year 1868 and showed more intelligent watches appearing in the 1970s. The smart watch era seems to have started in 2000 with IBM’s watch that ran Linux.
The new millennium brought several innovative wearable designs, including Casio’s WAV-1 camera watch, Fossil’s wrist PDA, and the SPOT watch in 2004. By 2005, electronic ink (E Ink) devices started to appear—the first being the Seiko Spectrum; LG introduced their watch phone in 2009; and the original Pebble watch was released in 2013.
In 2014, the smart watch market began to split into two main segments based on the technology of the display: color LCD smart watches (like from LG and Samsung) and monochrome smart watches using either E Ink technology (like from Pebble) or Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology (used in Qualcomm’s Toq watch). These two segments are further defined by the class of processor and memory required.
How Memory Plays a Role
As these wearable devices evolve, the amount of memory required increases—primarily because higher-end watches support color screens that typically run a more intensive operating system (OS), like Android. The monochrome versions use a thinner OS, which requires less processing, memory, and power. They all use Bluetooth technology to communicate back to a cell phone.
|Display||Color LCD||Mono (e-ink or Mirasol)|
|Processor||~ARM A9 (~1 GHz)||~ARM M3 or M4 core (~150 MHz)|
|Nonvolatile||4GB e∙MMC||~512KB (in M core processor)|
Why Micron Memory Is A Great Choice for Wearables
Freescale chose Micron’s J94H eMCP (4GB e∙MMC + 4Gb LPDDR2) for its integration value without the complexities of package-on-package (POP) technology. Most of the color LCD smart watches in production use either eMCP or POP for the improved integration as well as the reduced real estate. The next generation of wearables are asking for ePOP (eMCP in a POP) to continue the quest for tighter integration. Micron is investigating ePOP technology development to meet this need as well.
Be sure to leave questions or comments about the role of memory in the wearables market below.