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Micron Blog

Enabling the Evolution of Wearable Devices

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.

WaRPboard for efficient development of wearables


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.

1868 Patek Philippe Wristwatch
1868 Patek Philippe Wristwatch
1972 Pulsar P1 LED Watch
1972 Pulsar P1 LED Watch
1977 HP-01 Calculator Watch
1977 HP-01 Calculator Watch
2000 IBM Linux Watch
2000 IBM Linux Watch


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.

2000 Casio Wrist Camera WQV-1
2000 Casio Wrist Camera

2003 Fossil Wrist PDA
2003 Fossil Wrist PDA

2004 SPOT Watches
2004 SPOT Watches

2005 Seiko Spectrum e-ink Watch
2005 Seiko Spectrum Watch
2009 LG GD910 Watch Phone
2009 LG GD910 Watch Phone
2013 Pebble Smartwatch
2013 Pebble Smartwatch


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.

2014 Android Wear
2014 Android Wear
2014 Pebble Steel
2014 Pebble Steel
Qualcomm's Toq Watch
Qualcomm's Toq Watch

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)
DRAM 512MB 16MB PSRAM
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.

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