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How to provide powerful HMIs within wearable tech’s limited power budgets

How to provide powerful HMIs within wearable tech’s limited power budgets

Human machine interfaces (HMIs) with touch operation and eye-catching, intuitive graphics can make the difference between the success or failure of a piece of wearable technology. The problem, however, is that touch-enabled colour displays are notorious for draining battery power – and today’s users also demand long operating life between charges. This problem is compounded because the compact and lightweight construction needed to make wearables as comfortable as possible limits space for battery resources.

To date, wearables with ‘basic’ functions (such as fitness trackers or patient monitors) have been able to mitigate this situation as they connect up with more sophisticated hardware (like a tablet or smartphone). Products such as smart watches cannot do this, as they are marketed as an extension of the smartphone’s functionality (or even in some cases as a standalone product). That means they need an effective, graphically-appealing, low-power touch-based HMI of their own.

With the advent of a new generation of power-efficient processors, engineers can now implement intuitive, visually impressive HMIs in wearable devices while prolonging battery life. This is made possible by taking a different approach to conventional display operation. Specifically, by dividing the graphical content rendered on a screen into elements and only refreshing those elements that change (as opposed to having to refresh the entire screen on a regular basis) the processing power needed for this task is substantially reduced.

Toshiba is leading the way here, with its ApP LiteTM application processors. They incorporate highly advanced drawing, transformation and graphics engines that simplify the rendering of complex graphics without involving the system CPU. This technology supports complex features (for example clocks and dials), 2D/3D animation and rotation functions, as well as fade-in/fade-out and scaling effects - while keeping system power consumption as low as possible.

To find out more about HMI implementation in wearable devices and the key role that Toshiba’s ApP LiteTM technology can play download the following white paper.

Click here to learn more about the high performance, low power, TZ1200 wearable graphics solution

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