Nordic-powered health monitoring wearables offer cellular IoT wireless connectivity

Women with white watch on her arm from August International

The E2 and N2 smartwatches from August International employ nRF9160 to relay heart rate, blood oxygen and body temperature data to the Cloud

Consumer electronics company August International has launched a pair of smartwatches that provide owners with the ability to continuously monitor and record a range of key health metrics. Both the ‘E2’ and ‘N2’ wearables integrate pulse oximeter, temperature, and inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors to determine heart rate, blood oxygen, blood pressure, and body temperature vital signs, for example, while the N2 also includes an ECG sensor to record heartbeat and rhythm, as well as providing GPS positioning and fall detection functionality.

Both watches are powered by Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GNSS to relay data directly to the Cloud in the absence of a smartphone or gateway. The SiP also supervises the complex computational requirements of the on-board sensors using the SiP’s powerful 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 dedicated application processor. The SiP’s wireless connectivity enables the user, their nominated support network of family and friends, as well as medical professionals to review current and historical health data from the ‘iCare’ server platform, or via the ‘CareMate’ smartphone app. It can also provide instant alerts if any abnormal health events are detected.

The nRF Connect SDK saved us a lot of time during development
Dr Keming Zhou

Remote healthcare is now a key part of patient care

“Due to COVID-19, there has been a need to reduce the frequency of face-to-face medical appointments,” says Dr Keming Zhou, Managing Director of August International. “The use of remote healthcare devices has subsequently become a key part of patient care and the E2 and N2 are largely designed as remote healthcare devices for family members, clinics, and care homes to monitor the health of the wearers.

“When doctors have access to the data collected by the E2 or N2, they can obtain a more detailed and accurate insight into the wearer’s condition, and adjust their treatment as necessary, while an embedded data security engine ensures the protection of the user’s privacy at all times.”

For those requiring urgent care, the smartwatches include an ‘SOS’ button which, when pressed, calls for assistance and transmits the user’s location to emergency services, as well as sending a prerecorded message alert and position notification to those nominated via the CareMate app or web platform. The nRF9160 SiP combines cellular network location data with GPS trilateration for precise position monitoring in case of any SOS alerts while preserving battery life.

nRF Connect SDK saves time

The SiP is supported by the nRF9160 DK, a precertified single board development kit and the nRF Connect SDK, a software development kit which includes application layer protocols, application examples, and LTE modem firmware offered as precertified and precompiled downloads.

“The nRF Connect SDK saved us a lot of time during development,” says Zhou. “It is well maintained with regular updates, is free to all users, and is based on the Zephyr RTOS. The number of available sample codes meant we didn’t have to start from scratch.”